The seawall-construction project in Flagler Beach is problematic. Building living shorelines rather than concrete walls, is going to give us the best chance at ensuring a healthy beach for generations to come.
Whether it’s the Corps of Engineers’ plan for 2.6 miles of Flagler Beach sands or Flagler County’s ongoing dune-rebuilding over 12 miles, there’s no money to sustain either, yet officials are mortgaging the county’s future on a blank check.
Flagler County will be on the hook for nearly half the almost $100-million cost of the project over its 50-year span, with the federal government responsible for the rest.
The unexpected infusion of $17.5 million into Flagler’s beach-rebuilding projects revives a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan that appeared dead in 2017.
Flagler county officials put the blame squarely on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when they explain why they walked away from $35 million, and why county and state dollars must step in as replacement.
If the bills survive the coming legislative hurdles, there may be new money for Flagler County to tap into to repair its severely eroded beaches.
Flagler County is urging Flagler Beach to sign on to a $20 million plan to rebuild dunes on top of a wall of rock, though most of that money has yet to be secured.
The 4 percent surtax currently generates $2 million a year. An extra penny would add $500,000, but there are differences over whether all the added revenue should go to beach restoration or whether some should go to marketing the county.
Sen. Bill Nelson was back in Flagler Beach to tout the passage of a water bill that includes authorization for $15.6 million in federal beach renourishment dollars for Flagler County. But it’s conditional on the state not building sea walls.
The Flagler Beach City Commission endorsed the county’s decision to give up on federal dollars and instead spend county and state dollars on the first phase of what will amount to a hugely expensive, $44 million beach-protection project over the next 50 years.