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Pinellas County begins emergency beach restoration in Treasure Island

eroded beach
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Beach erosion from Hurricane Idalia is shown on Indian Shores.

Pinellas County officials are taking emergency measures to shore up some beaches that were slammed by Hurricane Idalia. It will be paid for with money from county tourist development taxes.

The project is starting on Sunset Beach in Treasure Island, and will soon move to other impacted areas. Sand is expected to be trucked in beginning Friday, said Pinellas County spokesman Tony Fabrizio. Vegetation will be then planted on the newly-created dunes.

"They're triaging the erosion, the damage that occurred from Hurricane Idalia," he said. "And there are other locations that we're going to be looking at: Clearwater, North Redington, Belleair Beach, generally the areas where we typically conduct nourishment, plus possibly Madeira Beach and Belleair Shores have expressed some interest in having dunes placed on their sand."

"They are actually trucking in sand from a location about 90 miles away, where they have sand that is very compatible with our beach sand," he said.

Fabrizio said the county is hoping for - but not requiring - temporary construction easements from every beachfront property owner. An Army Corps of Engineers renourishment project in Pinellas County has been held up for years because the corps wants permanent easements.

"If you're constructing dunes, they're going to be along the entire shore there," he said. "But if you go down there and visually inspect the the amount of erosion that we had down there, the property owners are concerned and rightfully so. And so I think, you know, we're pretty confident we're going to get a high level of cooperation on these easements."

The $6 million Sunset Beach project will be paid for by county tourist development taxes. Fabrizio said the county will then apply for a grant or cost share with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

"During beach nourishment, we dredged the sand from offshore. But in this instance, it's an emergency project. And there's no time to set up a dredge. So they're bringing in the sand," he said. "So it'll offer a tremendous amount of storm benefit compared to what we have there now."

Here's more information from the city of Treasure Island:

The project area consists mostly of the properties between the Tern parking lot and Beach Pavilion on the south part of Sunset Beach at approximately 8000 W. Gulf Blvd., and 9940 Gulf Blvd.

To complete this project, Sunset Beach south of Caddy’s, 9000 W. Gulf Blvd., will be closed to visitors beginning on Sept. 20 for dune restoration to ensure safety. All Sunset Beach parking lots will be closed, and beach access will not be permitted for the duration of the construction which is anticipated to take at least one month to complete.

We are asking owners to sign the easements as soon as possible. The easements require notarization in front of two witnesses.

The city has notaries available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, at City Hall located at 120 108th Ave., Building Department located at the rear of City Hall. Please call the building department with any questions, or for additional information, (727) 547-4575 x 230.

If you are one of the affected property owners, please email any questions to zoning@mytreasureisland.org with your address and your question. We will gather a list of frequently asked questions and post answers on this page as they come in.

Storm clouds over beach
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Storm clouds gather over Indian Shores beach

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.