Clearwater Beach resorts working to get their beach back

CLEARWATER — The Marine Advisory Board has given tentative approval to an engineering plan designed to help two hotels on South Gulfview Boulevard prevent further erosion and build up their beachfronts.
The sand outside Shephard’s Beach Resort and the Quality Beach Resort has eroded considerably over the past decade, thought to be the result of the 4,000-foot-long Sand Key jetty built in 1975. Sand has been washed in a southerly direction away from the resorts and has built up tremendously at the eastern end of the Sand Key Bridge.
“When they put up the jetty, they messed up our beach, and we’re paying for it,” said Paul Andrews, general manager at the Shephard’s Beach Resort.
“The value of what we have to offer our guests is diminishing,” said Manny Oliver, general manager at the Quality Beach Resort. “Our visitors expect beachfront property.”
Engineers have come up with a solution: Three “T-groins” extending from the beach would trap sand that otherwise would drift away from the shore as a result of the wave pattern in Clearwater Pass. Currently, two of the long, narrow steel structures exist at the site.
The proposal is to add one more in the middle and to cap them off with T-shaped structures.
The resorts are willing to pay the $40,000 to $50,000 in engineering and permitting costs required to obtain approvals for the project, said construction program management consultant Joe Burdette.
City Harbormaster William Morris said he began working on the problem 14 or 15 years ago. The issue was brought before the city council in the past, but approval for the mitigation measure was denied because of concerns over boater safety.
 The groins as previously proposed would not allow boaters to get to and from the beach and would force them to anchor too far out into the current flowing through the pass.
“I feel this addresses the concern that the council had,” Morris said about the new plan.
Last week, the Marine Advisory Board was asked to recommend the proposal to the city council. The board voted 4-2 in favor of the plan with a stipulation that it be brought back for review once all other state and county approvals and permits are obtained and before it goes in front of the city council.
The permitting process will take about 15 months, said Burdette, noting that approvals are required from the Pinellas County Water & Navigation Control Authority, the State Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers.
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