By Tim O’Meilia
The on-again, off-again breakwater plan for South Palm Beach’s eroding beach may yet have a faint heartbeat of revival.
Palm Beach County commissioners are set to discuss the future of beach restoration after other local and state officials said they want to consider an inlet-to-inlet approach to solving beach erosion.
“Instead of each town asking for an individual plan, we would develop a plan to establish a regional approach, from the Palm Beach Inlet to the Boynton Inlet,” state Rep. Jeff Clemens told the South Palm Beach Town Council on April 24.
The beach protection plan would involve an agreement among the local oceanfront towns between those two inlets, including Palm Beach, Lake Worth, South Palm Beach, Lantana and Manalapan, as well as Palm Beach County.
The idea would be to develop beach profiles along the coastline in the plan so that when state officials consider approvals — and perhaps financial support — for each section, the studies need not be done again.
“It deals with the problem holistically rather than asking each town to come up with their own plan,” said Clemens, who added that state Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary Jeff Littlejohn likes the regional approach.
County commissioners shot down plans in February for a series of groins and breakwaters along a 1.3-mile stretch of coastline including South Palm Beach when they killed a Singer Island groin plan.
Commissioners said the Singer Island jetties would not do enough to halt erosion, might disrupt the natural southerly drift of sand and might interfere with sea turtle nesting. Similar concerns would apply to the south county project, which would cost an estimated $15 million to $25 million.
South Palm Beach already had spent $111,000 as its share of a half-million-dollar environmental impact study when the project was halted.
County environmental officials also said they would end even dune restoration efforts because the sand washed away too quickly.
South Palm officials continued to lobby county commissioners in hope of salvaging the work already done on the environmental study for possible future use.
Town officials were uncertain about the new approach. “We’ll see,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Fischer about the regional approach.
Town Manager Rex Taylor was concerned that starting over with the wider plan would cause more delay than simply reviving the current effort.
In other business, the council delayed a decision on buying a new police car after Councilwoman Stella Jordan said she wanted more information on the maintenance record and warranty on the 7-year-old Ford Crown Victoria that the town wants to trade in.
“Other towns are keeping their cars longer than we keep ours,” Jordan said, referring to North Palm Beach and Lantana, among others. “It’s our taxpayers’ money, it’s not ours. I don’t know that we have enough information to make a decision.”
The town would get an $1,800 trade-in on the police cruiser, which has 47,000 miles on it. A new Dodge Charger would cost $23,654.
Mayor Donald Clayman appointed Vice Mayor Joseph Flagello to research the purchase. The council considered buying a new police car during last fall’s budget session but decided against