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Sebastian Inlet dune repair project set to start in December

STORY BY SUE COCKING (Week of October 22, 2020)

The Sebastian Inlet District will begin repairing 2 miles of storm-battered dunes at the northern end of the barrier island beginning in December, using sand dredged from its stockpile adjacent to Sebastian Inlet State Park.

Unlike the county, which has postponed two major beach repair projects that were slated to start in November because it could not secure the cooperation of enough beachfront property owners, the district was able to get property owners onboard without too much difficulty.

“We have confidence we can construct our project without any concerns,” said James Gray, the inlet district's executive director.

District commissioners last Wednesday awarded the Zephyrhills, Florida earthmoving company Phillips & Jordan a $950,000 contract to transport some 55,000 cubic yards of sand from the stockpile to the beach just north of the McLarty Treasure Museum. The sand will be shaped and graded to build up the dunes from 2,000 feet north of the museum south past Ambersand Beach Park.

“It’s a fortified dune approach versus a large-scale beach renourishment project,” said Gray. “We’re building a three-to-one sloping dune from the vegetation line to above the mean highwater line.”

Originally, the repair project was slated to begin in the fall of 2021, but Gray said last winter’s nor’easter storms damaged the dunes so severely that beach residents and the inlet district agreed it should be moved up a year. Construction is expected to wrap up by April 1, 2021, just ahead of sea turtle nesting season.

Gray said the inlet district started working on securing contracts with North Beach property owners in July and now has executed agreements with 85 percent of those affected, with others in the process of executing agreements. He said only two homeowners have refused to sign.

The county had much more difficulty getting cooperation from beachfront property owners, with only 50 percent signing up along one stretch of its project area.