SC - Beach restoration hits a snag
While the City of Isle of Palms has recently secured a state permit and grant to initiate dune restoration between 114 and 304 Ocean Blvd., the refusal on the part of some property owners to play ball is creating a less-than-ideal scenario in Council’s efforts to protect against high waves and/or storm surge.
During the Capital Projects portion of City’s Council’s Aug. 8 workshop, Administrator Désirée Fragoso reported that numerous bids have already been received from contractors to deposit about 400,000 cubic yards of sand along the IOP beach area, along with an extra 150,000 cubic yards of sand to be trucked into Sullivan’s Island.
She further noted the approval of an SCRPT (South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism) grant covering 50 percent of construction costs on IOP.
A condition of receiving that government subsidy, however, is for the City to execute easement agreements with 21 private properties situated across the work area.
Of the 21 owners who were presented with the easement documents, only five have agreed to allow the City to access and pour sand on their beach parcels, according to Fragoso. Nine have flat-out declined signing the proposed agreements, while five hadn’t yet responded as of the date of the meeting.
“We have been advised that this is what the City’s position needs to be by our attorneys,” continued Fragoso. “The goal of the easement would be to allow the City to maintain it, repair it, protect it and prevent a property owner from eroding it or making changes to the dune after it’s been constructed by the City.”
An option has been offered to private land owners to finance — and perform — the work themselves via the enlistment of their own contractors. The other alternative, she explained, would be for the proprietor to balk at signing any agreement and therefore not be obligated to pay for restoration work.
Under that scenario, the unresponsive owners would see their properties skipped, which could threaten the integrity of dune structures, according to coastal engineers.
“It seems like we’ve talked about the need of developing a consistent policy and Councilmember (John) Bogosian suggested this is something that the administration committee take on. I agree that this is something that needs to be addressed and codified. Other communities have codified it, others have not. Some are a little wishy-washy and the others are not, and a lot of the beaches in our state are managed by the (U.S. Army) Corps,” maintained Fragoso.