Manasota Key (Storch Report) — There is a fundamental truism about not messing with mother nature, for it never seems to work.
However, naivety continues to belie common sense and it more often than not revolves around an ulterior motive focusing on the word money.
And so when you examine motives behind issues, follow the money, especially when common sense doesn’t seem to prevail.
Follies in history appear to be more often than not associated with politicians.
Here on Manasota Key, a barrier reef on the Southwest coast of Florida, the politicians of Charlotte County, made up of county commissioners governing the only spit of beach in their jurisdiction, perhaps six miles in length, want to renourish eroding sand, despite what they might know, or not, about mother nature.
It should be noted that they do have consultants advising them, perhaps with their own profit motives, with the intention of buttressing the county’s motives of increasing the resident and tourism tax base. The experts have been identified as Coastal Engineering Consultants and it was they that conducted the Manasota Key North Beach Erosion Study and they say the system that feeds sand to Manasota Key no longer has the volume of sand to fully replenish the beaches.
Michael Poff of Coastal Engineering said the erosion seen north of Englewood Beach eventually will make its way south. It was reported in local papers that he went on to say, “If you express your willingness to pay your fair share, I have seen projects very successfully completed, he told the advisory board. “Then, you are not asking everyone to do it for you.” What in God’s name does this mean? ‘Successfully completed,’ did the sand stick, did it have to be renourished and is this an ongoing project, and who’s asking ‘everyone’ to do it for us?
I have lived on Manasota Key now for some 30 years and have watched the sand come and go and now I am told there is no more sand out there!
The experts say the sand is moving south and has been doing so for some time.
There is now sand on the south end of the Key today, where there was none yesterday. Yesterday, houses on the south end toppled into the sea while the north end of the key had sand.
But now we hear there is no more sand in the Gulf of Mexico to replenish our beaches.
If that is the case, why is it that I see through my binoculars west of my house on the horizon barges taking sand off of the shores of Manasota Key to renourish the beaches north of us in Venice?
Venice has an inlet with two jetty’s reaching out into the Gulf, apparently not preventing the sand from shifting south, or why would they be renourishing beaches to the south at least three times in the past two decades, the latest being this year. I wouldn’t call that ‘success.’
Now the commissioners of Charlotte are planning to put in a jetty of sorts on the south end of Manasota Key to preclude sand from shifting south, closing up Stump Pass, and going to the beaches of Palm Island. Are there no lessons to be learned from the experiences of Venice and the jetty’s at this inlet?
The estimated cost of beach renourishment on Manasota Key is $38 million, four years from now considering permitting, federal, state, and resident buy-in, for a beach front estimated to be about a mile-and-a-half. Oh, and this would be an ongoing project, repeated every eight years. If the beaches north of the county line in Sarasota are not renourished it will be a gross waste of money. And if Sarasota puts sand on its beaches, why should we bother putting sand on ours if it’s going to move south?
Now here’s a word from the County Commissioner representing Manasota Key, Bill Truex: “Those people to the south (who) may not join into this effort may cost everyone north of them money. That’s blunt, but it’s the only way I can explain it.”
He further said, “Those holdouts create issues on both sides of them.”
And what does the beach front owner get? They get 40 feet of sand that will move south, doubling of their taxes, easements that allow the public to invade their properties, parking in front of their houses, a lack of privacy for which they once paid for dearly, a loss of value in their real estate investment, all of which makes beach erosion more palatable than beach renourishment.
Furthermore once established, the renourished beach west of the line to the Gulf becomes “public beach” and east of the line remains private property.
The county claims it has 50 to 60 percent of property owners willing to sign on with the county. I don’t know where these numbers come from, but I seriously question their validity.
As a beachfront property owner in the area in question, I have never been approached for support to such an inane, poorly conceived concept, that history and mother nature will prove to be a failure, benefiting only those with the undisclosed monetary motives.
On a smaller scale, this could be a political equivalent to the folly of the Florida Everglades, which has now taken years and billions of dollars of taxpayer money to undo in order to right a wrong, all of which was once designed to benefit the sugar industry.
I urge residents up and down the Key from Sarasota to Charlotte county to seek out the motives, follow the money and believe in the historical significance and failure of success in messing with mother nature.