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Beach repair gets underway at condo near Jaycee Park

Photo: Equipment begins bringing in sand for dune at Sea Quay.

Beach repair began this week on about 400 feet of shoreline fronting condominiums just north of Jaycee Park, part of the stretch of local beach hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew last October. Rather than wait for the county or city to bring in sand, the condominium association is paying for the project itself to protect its property.

All day Monday, and for the next several days, dump trucks, each hauling 18 to 20 cubic yards of sand from Stuart Mining Industries in Fort Pierce, rolled along the northern edge of Jaycee Park to the dune line to dump their loads

After each truckload of sand was dumped at the dune line, Alan Votrobek, a trackhoe operator with Henry Fischer and Sons in Sebastian, scooped it up and loaded it into a waiting off-loader truck, which then hauled it up the beach where a bulldozer placed and smoothed the sand.

Votrobek expected the job to take four days and use 138 truckloads of sand. He said beach renourishment projects such as this one usually come up at least once a year, typically after a hurricane or other damaging storm.

On the southern side of Jaycee Park, government-funded work will get under way shortly to repair a 400-foot stretch of Conn Beach, where the dune was washed out from under the popular boardwalk, undermining part of Ocean Drive and leaving a gapping chasm between the crumbled edge of the pavement and the wooden walkway.

Vero Beach City Manager Jim O'Connor says the contract for the Conn Beach project was just awarded to Mancil's Tractor Service in Palm City, which won the job with a bid of $319,375.

“After Hurricane Matthew, Conn Beach was our worst dune problem,” O'Connor said. “FEMA came in, took a look. And we bid it out.”

He explained that Federal Emergency Management Agency needed to see the damage before it was repaired because the agency can reimburse up to 75 percent of the cost of the project, and sometimes even more, if all requirements are met. The city will pay the bills and then submit copies to FEMA, at which time FEMA will determine how much money the city will get back.

"For a possible 75 percent reimbursement, of course we'll jump through all the hoops," said O'Connor.

But regardless how much the city gets reimbursed, it could be months, even years, before the check is actually in the mail, he added.  FEMA money Vero Beach qualified for after the 2004-2005 hurrricanes has yet to be received.

O'Connor says all the work on the beach has to be done “before turtle nesting season, March 1.” Nearly 90 percent of sea turtle nesting in the U.S. occurs in Florida, when, from March through October each year, these ancient mariners return to their home beaches to lay eggs.

State laws carefully guard the mother turtles, their hatchlings and their nesting grounds, forbidding any disruptive activities, such as bulldozers moving sand, during the nesting season.