A group of concerned and frustrated Ponte Vedra Beach residents is banding together to implement a long-term beach renourishment and preservation plan following the damaging impacts of Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Irma and subsequent nor’easters.
Referring to themselves as the "Save Ponte Vedra Beach Group," the residents gathered for the second time this past month on Sunday, Oct. 29 at Sawgrass Country Club to review their action plan and bring interested homeowners up to speed. They say Ponte Vedra Beach is one of the few communities in the state that does not have a beach restoration program in place, and they’re tired of waiting.
“What we decided is we’re mad as hell,” said Dr. Shyam Paryani, one of the organization’s leaders, to the approximately 100 people at the meeting. “We’re not going to take it anymore. We decided to do something about it.”
The group has studied beach restoration programs in neighboring communities, such as Amelia Island, Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine Beach, and now they’re ready to implement one for Ponte Vedra Beach, spanning from the Ponte Vedra county line to the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Before doing so, however, the residents in the group plan to send a poll to beach homeowners to ensure they have support.
“We need to know that we have a majority with us to go ahead with this program, or we can’t do it,” said Lori Moffett, another Save Ponte Vedra Beach leader.
If the group receives that support, it plans to hire an engineering consultant who could provide a coastal assessment and suggest which long-term program would be best (e.g. dredging). And then the residents would plan to hire an economic consultant who could determine what is fair for each homeowner to pay for the project.
Moffett said the cost of the program would be determined by the results of the study, but that the group would plan to work with the county and fund the project via a property taxing vehicle known as a MSTU (Municipal Service Taxing Unit). Paryani added that Save Ponte Vedra Beach plans to lobby the state legislature for state matching funds. He noted that several members of the organization attended a special meeting Oct. 18 organized by the Ponte Vedra Beach Municipal Service District (MSD) to hear from and speak with county and state officials about what can be done to save their beaches. The group’s conclusion from the meeting was that the officials will help them, but it’s ultimately up to the residents to get the ball rolling and implement the project.
“If you don’t do it yourselves, nothing will get done,” said Paryani. “We saw it after Hurricane Matthew. Nothing got done.”
As for a timeline for the project, Paryani said that if the residents can garner support, complete the studies quickly and apply for 2018 state matching funds, they hope the beach restoration project will begin in the fall of 2018.
Visit https://savepontevedrabeach.com/ for more information.