About the only good thing that could come out of a ridiculous partial renourishment of Folly Beach would be a primer on what bad beach management can do.
The cover photo could show houses built too near the ocean, separated from the beach by a large moat and bolstered by revetments.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently poured sand on Folly's beach to mitigate erosion caused, in part, by the jetties, which define a shipping channel into Charleston Harbor. The $30 million project was paid for by the federal government because the jetties were built as a federal project.
The Corps, however, is responsible for renourishing only public land. So a swath of beach belonging to 45 front beach property owners was not renourished.
That left a wide moat that fills with water and no party willing to fix it.
A solution must be found. Soon. Not only does the moat look awful and impair the public's use of the beach, it is expected to cause the recently poured sand to erode. That is sand the nation's taxpayers bought.
The Corps can be faulted for renourishing a portion of the beach without assurance that the job would be completed by another entity. But its assignment was to renourish the public beach. And taxpayers wouldn't like paying for private beach renourishment.
Homeowners can be blamed. It was abundantly clear that the sand was eroding on what they claim as their property, but they took no action.
And then there's the city of Folly Beach. The Corps told officials that the city would have to get public right-of-way easements from property owners or pay for the sand along the stretch. They failed to work things out, however, and the Corps called it quits and removed its equipment.
Perhaps representatives of the Corps of Engineers, the city and homeowners should shut themselves in a room and come up with a solution. And since a few solutions could involve taxpayers paying the price for others' bad judgment, the group should include citizen advocates.
Meanwhile, the beach moat can serve as a case study for state government. It could demonstrate to DHEC officials why it isn't a good idea to allow building too close to the ocean - even just once in a while.
It could demonstrate to the Legislature the need for sound policies regulating shorelines - perhaps a reason to reconvene the Blue Ribbon Committee on Shoreline Management to address issues such as Folly is experiencing.
And developers, and their customers, might want to pay Folly a visit and see up close what the ocean can do. Beaches accrete and they erode. Eventually nature wins, and unwise property owners lose.
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