Posted By Allison VanderVeer @ Feb 28th 2018 11:32am In: Life on St Simons

BEACH RENOURISHMENT IS A TRICKY SUBJECT here on St. Simons Island. Tuesday's county commission called work session is where it officially came up, since Governor Deal has offered 10 Million to Tybee and St. Simons to be used to put sand on beaches. That's it in a nutshell.

BUT THAT'S NOT IT in a nutshell. It might be 'here we go again', as we did in 1992 when this issue was so polarized I thought our leadership, as well as our citizenry, might have taken lessons from Congress! There was no middle ground where a reasonable person could stand. My view was that it was the beach condo complexes and hotels catering to visitors, versus permanent residents -- homeowners in non-beach front areas and East Beach area; East Beach had plenty of sand (and more permanent residents than today) and non-beach tax payers didn't want to continually foot a bill that seemed, in their minds, to favor visitors/tourists. Yes, we had a bunch of 'raise the bridge now that I have mine' people here then. And you can't blame someone for wanting this fabulous place to remain quaint and quiet, except there are others who want a piece of that action.

It seems this 'gift' from Atlanta has no strings attached. I surely hope that's the case. And, I hope Commissioner Murphy will explore and explain this opportunity in a little more detail in a future town hall meeting. The next regular commission meeting may have an update; we'll see. I applaud the island's commissioner for bringing it to the table. You don't mess around with letting Tybee have all $10M if we can get half! More seriously, there likely is some good that can be done. 'The News' said, "Mr. Murphy and other commissioners were told the money was specifically for St. Simons and Tybee Islands, and that it must be used to renourish beaches with sand."

Could it be that East Beach will be happy, as more sand farther south towards the Pier Village might send some beachgoers away from East Beach, taking pressure off the space-limited Coast Guard Beach and Massengale Park Beach area further to the south? The Village might be happy, as well as condo owners and renters; all day beach -- high water beach -- for these folks would be an improvement. Will sand in that location hold, and will it not be swept into the shipping channel and out to sand shoals along that waterway? Will we be committing ourselves to tax dollars on an ongoing basis to maintain what we're doing? Do we have to use the money for sand; what about revetment/rock wall work and access ramps? If there are ongoing expenditures after renourishment, how much? And what are implications to other important projects that might be shelved for lack of dollars? What pressure will that put on limited parking in the south end / Village areas, and what can we do about that? All are questions that come to mind for me. And I'm sure there are more.

This time around I hope any discussion of beach renourishment on St. Simons can be more civil. A well organized, complete body of knowledge to consider would be appreciated by this writer. I'm probably more for the natural sand sharing system, but I can be open-minded. One thing's for sure, Brother Nathan from Atlanta has made us an offer with a deadline. We'd better get to thinking. It will be exciting.

• During WWII the federal government deepened and extended the channel in St. Simons Sound to facilitate the launching on the Liberty Ships. Once the dredging began, the beaches began to rapidly erode. The channel continues to be dredged even today to accommodate the huge cargo ships coming into port.
• In 1964 Hurricane Dora hit St. Simons, flooding neighborhoods and washing away several homes on Beachview Drive and caused severe beach erosion. President Johnson came to view the damage and ordered rocks installed on our beaches – hence the name “Johnson Rocks”.
• In the 1990’s a proposal to pump sand onto the beach on St. Simons met fierce local opposition and the county commissioners retracted the proposal.
• In 2011, the Golden Isles Convention & Visitors Bureau asked the Glynn County Commissioners to start a dialogue among local experts about erosion on St. Simons and beach renourishment. The commissioners showed little interest in pursuing so no dialogue was started.
• Now, in 2018, Governor Nathan Deal has purposed to give St. Simons Island and Tybee Island a $10M grant for beach renourishment. More to come in this wrapper as information is presented.

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Comments (1)

Tom McDougald says...
on 03/03/18

I have been disappointed through the last 20 years about the lack of action by Glynn county officials concerning our beach erosion on St. Simons Island. At times there has been little or no beach at high tide. Recent storms have washed away the dunes that give the beach stability as various plants hold them together. My biggest concern however is that much of the sand we had has washed out between the beach and the sand bar. This has created shallow water that at times becomes stagnated which has allowed bacteria to grow- thus we get warning signs about entering the water. Not too many years ago I could not walk from the beach to the sand bar, the water would be over my head. Now, at times, I can walk 50 to 75 yards from the beach and the water will only be knee deep. The water between the beach and sand bar needs to be able to be exchanged more often and effectively. Finally, more Johnson rocks are needed in a few locations.

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