You Paid For It: Beach renourishment turns sand into gold all over again

PINELLAS, Fla. (WFLA) — The City of Indian Rocks Beach is spending up to $20,000 this week that You Paid For to replenish beach access points washed away by last Sunday’s storm. “This is a huge resource this is a front door to our city this is our park and this is minor price to pay to keep access to our beach,” said City manager Gregg Mims.

The cost of this project is minor compared to the 10 million  tax dollars a year  that Pinellas County spends to rebuild eroded beaches from Ft. Desoto to Honeymoon Island. That spending amounts to more than $100 million over the past decade alone.

IRB City Manager Gregg Mims insists this latest sand dump is a no brainer when it comes to best use of city resources because of safety. He said there was a dangerous drop off from the access boardwalk.”We have 28 beach accesses and we have to do something to make it safe for people to walk onto the beach,” Mims said.

Andy Squires manages the Coastal Resources Section for Pinellas County and oversees  renourishment projects. Squires estimates the county spends $10 million a yer of your tax dollars replenishing eroded beaches–a staggering $100 million over the past decade. So how much longer will it make sense to keep pouring tht kid of money int fresh sand with rising seas and increasing storm damage? ” It’s complicated answer because its a social question it a political question and its a physical question,” Squires said.

The County’s funding comes form local bed tax money as well as state grants. Right now, Squires insists it makes perfect sense to keep spending it due to the $1 billion tourism trade that golden beaches bring to Pinellas County.

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Squires insists we are along way away from dispatching with beach renourishment projects and retreating from the rising Gulf waters. There are at least $58.7 million worth of future projects already planned–and that doesn’t include tens of millions of additional federal funding.

Tax critics might argue that spending such a fortune to preserve mostly  private beachfront property is a bit like building castles in the sand at the public’s expense. Squires ins’t so sure. “Well, that’s a matter of opinion,” Squires said. “Yes, the sand will wash away, but you get some value out of that,”

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