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Town of Palm Beach Coastal Plan for 2013-2014

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Reach 8 Environmental Impact Study and
Coastal Protection Plan Update

At its July 9th meeting to review final recommendations from the Woods Hole study’s 10-year program for our shoreline and beaches, the Town Council approved spending up to $561,348 to hire Coastal Planning and Engineering to pursue an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), a study which is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before any major structural and beach restoration can begin in Reach 8. 

Using the Woods Hole program as a guide,  The total cost of this 10-year plan is expected to be about $85 million.

The first-year cost for high-priority projects will be approximately $22 million for its 12 miles of shoreline. Viewed in context with Palm Beach County's commitment of $26 million for 42 miles of shoreline, it is fair to say that our Town is making a significant commitment of energy and resources.

Projects proposed for 2014 include the following:

  • Supplemental sand placement along the Town's beaches and dunes south of Sloan's Curve through Phipps Ocean Park, extending south of the Lake Worth Pier.
  • Dune restoration for Reach 8 is planned for next winter.
  • Replacement of the North Ocean Boulevard seawall across from Palm Beach Country Club.
  • Full Midtown Beach renourishment, extending from Via Los Incas to Banyan Road. (A similar full beach renourishment is planned for Reach 7 in FY 2016).
  • A total of $1 million (paid out over two years) for the Environmental Impact Statement that is required prior to any major construction or sand replacement project south of the Lake Worth Pier.

The entire 10-year plan has broad support throughout our Town. Based on extensive deliberations by the Shore Board and a comprehensive analysis and vetting by Woods Hole – one of the leading ocean engineering consulting firms in the world – the Town's plan, while not perfect, is the best plan we can have for the restrictive regulatory environment we are in.  It deserves support from the entire Town.

Contrary to claims that have been made by some of our South End neighbors, the Town has long been concerned about protecting condominiums in the eroded Reach 8 area and is providing the lion's share of the resources in partnering with Palm Beach County to produce the required study for the U.S. Government. The County will reimburse the town for 38.6 percent of the cost of the study that will cover most of Reach 8 and several towns to the south.

In FY 2016, the Town is budgeting a 70,000 cubic-yard sand-fill north of the pier aimed at feeding and growing our battered beaches to the south. Cost of this project is preliminarily estimated at $15,100,000. The Town's Shore Protection Board recommended this approach due to our inability to get state and federal environmental permits for a major direct fill without the required Environmental Impact Study. All of this is based on a major court case (which the Town lost) seeking state permits for an extensive beach renourishment program. The court case set the scene for further required studies of near shore impacts and the need for an Environmental Impact Study.

All South End residents interested in participating in the Environmental Impact Study should attend a scoping meeting to be held at Town Hall on August 12th (after 5:00 p.m.). This is our opportunity to press for strong problem-solving approaches to our structural and sand placement needs. While the Army Corps of Engineers will have the final word, strong citizen participation in the process can have a positive effect in selecting the alternatives chosen for analysis

Lew Crampton
Citizens Association of Palm Beach

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