Isle of Palms in running for best restored urban beach
Vote early and often is the message out of Isle of Palms City Hall these days as an ongoing competition for best restored urban beach in America approaches the finish line.
The island is in third place out of a field of more than 20 hopefuls. To win, it must pass Panama City Beach, Fla., and West Hampton Dunes, N.Y.
Thursday afternoon, the vote tally was Panama City Beach 1,963; West Hampton Dunes 1,921; Isle of Palms, 1,296.
Voting continues online through April 27 at www.asbpa.org, the website of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association. In this election, it’s OK to vote once a day until the contest is over.
The results are considered one measure of the popularity of a beach.
“I would really like to see us charge ahead at the finish line,” said Linda Tucker, city manager.
Isle of Palms was one of five sandy shores selected as a 2011 Best Restored Beach for the work the city did on its $10 million beach nourishment project from 53rd Avenue to Dewees Inlet. It received that award in March in Washington, D.C.
Beach erosion is caused by wind, tide and other factors. Some areas, such as Sullivan’s Island, grow beach naturally because of the effect of the Charleston Harbor jetties, which block the natural north-to-south flow of sand and cause it to stack up at the harbor end of the island.
Sullivan’s has so much new beach that it has developed a management plan for the nearly 200 acres of land it has acquired.
In contrast, Folly Beach loses sand because of the jetties. The Army Corps of Engineers completed a beach nourishment project there in 2007, but more shoreline restoration is now being considered.
Hurricane Irene ravaged the Charleston County park there and it is now closed.
On IOP, it’s another story. The beach restoration project has held up pretty well since it was done in 2008. But at the east end of the island in part of Wild Dunes near Dewees Inlet, erosion continued to be a problem.
At the Ocean Club Villas, high tide lapped against the base of stairs leading to the villas until recently. Sand was trucked in to create a temporary sea wall to protect dunes fronting the 18th hole of one of Wild Dunes’ golf courses.
City Hall responded with a call for contractors to scrape 60,000 cubic yards of sand from a nearby wide, healthy section of the beach. It was used to shore up 450 yards of erosion-scarred shoreline that also includes the Seascape Villas and Port O’ Call condominiums.
The work on the erosion “hot spot” was finished last week. It was done for less than $500,000 with leftover private funds from Wild Dunes property owners who paid some $7 million of the costs for the beach renourishment project.
“There is (now) a beach at high tide,” said Dave Kynoski, chief executive officer of the Wild Dunes Community Association.
In 2008, before the IOP beach was renourished, tens of thousands of sandbags used on an emergency basis to protect property from the sea washed away in storm tides, littering the coast and marshes for miles.
Although Wild Dunes is a gated community, the project was considered in the public interest because the beach to that section of the island is accessible from 53rd and 57th avenues, Tucker said.
And there is the issue of accommodations-tax money generated for the city budget, which relies heavily on tourist dollars, the island’s only industry.
For 40 years, beach restoration has been the preferred method of shore protection in coastal communities, which have restored more than 370 beaches in the United States. It involves placing beach-quality sand on eroding beaches.
“As Americans flock to our nation’s coastline during the upcoming beach season, most don’t even realize they may be enjoying a restored beach,” said ASBPA President Harry Simmons, mayor of Caswell Beach, N.C.