County moves ahead with South Ponte Vedra dune restoration


The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved funding and the hiring of a contractor Tuesday, Jan. 18, for the South Ponte Vedra Dune Restoration Project.

This dredging and beach fill project spans the area starting from Serenata Beach and extending north for about five and a half miles. It is unrelated to the FEMA Dune Enhancement Project, which is now under way.

The South Ponte Vedra segment of shoreline has sustained critical erosion due to a number of storms over the past six years, beginning with Hurricane Matthew in 2016. However, attempts to procure federal assistance to restore the beach were unsuccessful.

Referring to these failed attempts, Commissioner Henry Dean called the stretch “the Rodney Dangerfield of beach renourishment projects.”

The commission approved the hiring of Weeks Marine Inc. of Convington, Louisiana, to do the work at a cost of about $13 million. The project will involve the dredging of about 670,000 cubic yards of sand from an offshore borrow site and placing it on the beach.

The project will be funded in part by a grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection. The remainder will be funded through special taxes levied on property in that area, though that could be offset if the Legislature passes the Fiscal Recovery Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act, which could make the project eligible for special funding.

The total cost of the project — including contingency — is estimated at about $15.1 million, with the lion’s share, $14.6 million, in the South Ponte Vedra segment. Just over $600,000 will be required for the Serenata portion.

After factoring for the grant reimbursement, the net cost falls to $7.3 million for the South Ponte Vedra portion, where homeowners will pay $3.20 per $1,000 of their assessed property value. The Serenata segment falls to $303,355, with a tax rate of 61 cents for $1,000 of property value.

These tax estimates are based on current values, so they could change before the annual budget process gets under way in July.

The project is expected to be complete by June 30.


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