Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 26, 2017 5:00 p.m.
Eric Olsen (Olsen Associates, Inc.) and Beau Corbett (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) provided Fernandina Beach City Commissioners with a brief update and overview of upcoming beach renourishment efforts scheduled for the City of Fernandina Beach at the November 21, 2017 FBCC Regular Meeting.
In their press release published in the Fernandina Observer on November 20, 2017, the Army Corps of Engineers reported: “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District awarded a $32,859,630.00 contract to the Dutra Group for the next scheduled maintenance dredging of U.S. Naval Station Kings Bay and sand placement at Fernandina Beach. Sand will be placed on critically eroded portions of Fernandina Beach in areas not routinely renourished. Using sand dredged from the Kings Bay Entrance Channel on Fernandina Beach will result in an overall cost savings of approximately $13.5 million.” [See https://fernandinaobserver.com/2017/11/20/corps-awards-contract-for-u-s-naval-station-kings-bay-dredging-and-fernandina-beach-renourishment/ for the complete release.]
The presenters went over information that had previously been presented to the FBCC in beach renourishment briefings and provided new information regarding the project schedule.
The awarded beach placement area starts near Fort Clinch State Park’s coastal boundary near New York Avenue and will go as far south as near Sadler Road. The Corps estimates the contractor will place about 740,000 cubic yards at Fernandina Beach. The contractor will disperse about 1,020,000 cubic yards of non-beach compatible sand between the approved nearshore disposal area and an offshore disposal site.
Corps of Engineers project manager Beau Corbett tried to give the audience some idea of the size of the project. He said that the size of the downtown Hampton Inn minus the parking garage represents about 35,000 cubic yards. During the renourishment project, about the equivalent of 50 Hampton Inns will be dredged from the channel. About 27 of those “Hampton Inns” will be dumped offshore, and about 21 “Hampton Inns-worth” of sand will end up on the city beach.
He stressed the uniqueness of this project, which in effect combines two projects—dredging the Kings Bay channel and Fernandina beach renourishment, resulting in a savings of $13.5M.
Thanks to innovative ways of approaching the project, the city is in effect buying a $26M project for $1.6M, reaping a 1,525 percent return on investment.
Vice Mayor Len Kreger pointed out that of the city’s $1.6M share of the cost, 46 percent was paid by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the 54 percent city/county share was contributed by the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council this year. “This is probably one of the five best renourishment projects in the country,” Kreger said. “I want to add that the coordination has been great. … There will be some inconvenience to the public while the project is underway, but we will work through that as we go on. I want to thank Eric Olsen and the Corps of Engineers.”
Construction is expected to begin in December and will last for approximately three months. Dredging will end before March 31, which is the end of the environmental turtle window allowing hopper dredging.
Mayor Robin Lentz asked for coordination between the project and the city so that citizens may be kept informed.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.