'Significant' erosion to beaches in St. Lucie, Indian River counties from cold front,

St. Lucie County may need $17 million for beach fix — but there's a way to cut costs

Between 1944 and 2017, the state of Florida spent at least $1.34 billion on beach rebuilding projects. Put another way, we could have renourished our beaches with dollar bills instead of sand — and the effect would be pretty much the same.

That's just state money; the feds also have kicked in billions.

And you? Well, if you live in St. Lucie County, prepare to pony up.

More: FEMA cancels $9.5 million award to St. Lucie County

More: Mayfield bill would revamp beach renourishment funding

Within the next two years, the county needs to come up with $17 million to fund beach restoration projects on Hutchinson Island. One way or another, you're going to pay, but there is one way to cut costs — if those who live along the beach can stand it.

Fort Pierce Beach needs work, as it does periodically due to erosion from the inlet just to the north.

But being that the inlet is owned by the federal government, the feds are supposed to pay for the work every two years "as funding allows," said St. Lucie County Coastal Management Services Director Glenn Henderson.

This will be the third time in less than a decade that funding "hasn't allowed." So if the beach is to be kept in place, the county must foot the bill — this time, to the tune of about $2.5 million.

And the burden on local taxpayers is only going to grow: "The feds have made it clear they will not pick up as much of the funding going forward," said Henderson. "The responsibility is being shifted to local agencies."

Ultimately, that means you.

All this is small potatoes compared to the massive rebuilding project to stretch from Normandy Beach to the Martin County line. The project's been in the works for years and the price tag had ballooned to more than $22 million; but for a while, it looked like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would pay most of the tab.

Then a complex misunderstanding over the use of FEMA funds resulted in FEMA pulling its $9.5 million. St. Lucie County now needs to come up with $14.8 million for this project.

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