In a bit of returning to the future, crews should begin mobilizing for a beach restoration project on St. Joseph Peninsula.
The long-awaited project was nearly at this identical point last September, as crews from Manson Construction were mobilizing to begin the project.
In the first week of October, we printed the headline, “Restoration to begin Monday.”
Well, as we all know now that headline ranks up with “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
A tropical depression picked up energy, gathered a name, Michael, and was roaring toward the Gulf Coast by that Monday.
Manson demobilized for safer harbors and by that Wednesday Hurricane Michael was battering the area.
But, beginning the first two weeks of August, more than three years since the county began down this path, Manson will try its part again and hope for better luck from Mother Nature.
“The beach restoration is on go and they will be mobilizing the first or second week of August,” said Assistant County Administrator Warren Yeager Tuesday. “They should be pumping sand by the end of August and they should be completed in the following 45 to 60 days.”
The sand will be pumped first near the Stump Hole rock revetment and the work move north to Billy Joe Rish Park before hopping to Eagle Harbor in T.H. Stone St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is participating with additional funding to completely repair the breach in the beach at Eagle Harbor caused by Hurricane Michael, which has all but filled in courtesy of Mother Nature.
The goal for the FDEP is to completely fill the gap to allow for the construction of an access road which would ultimately lead to the re-opening of the rest of the park infrastructure, particularly campgrounds and hiking/nature trails.
Prior to Michael, the peninsula state park was one of the most-visited and profitable in Florida.
Yeager added that a meeting Wednesday could spur the funding and work for sand berms the county would like to construct along several coastlines.
During their monthly regular meeting, commissioners discussed at length solutions to ongoing problems with garbage, particularly along the tourist corridor.
There are several issues, among them tourists and locals who use other’s trash receptacles, rental units or homes with too few receptacles and units or homes that do not have more than one pick-up per week.
There are also lodging units or homes that do no have regular pick-up at all, but rely on depositing garbage in neighboring receptacles, county staff reported.
“Ninety-percent of people do what they should do, but there are those who are not personally responsible,” said County Administrator Michael Hammond. “You have to take some personal responsibility and some people just will not.”
Particular problems are vacation rentals rented by the property’s owners and absentee owners, Hammond added.
Staff was directed to bring back at the September meeting recommendations for moving to some mechanism for mandatory garbage pick-up in the tourist corridor.
Additional problems involved issues with Waste Pro, which still has receptacles in areas of the county more than a month after its contract with the county ended.
Commissioner Sandy Quinn, Jr., said he would think a business would not wish to burn bridges simply because a customer went in another direction, but said that did not seem to be Waste Pro’s approach at all.
Quinn wondered, his opinion, he emphasized, whether the company wasn’t deliberately sending leaky trucks, a continual source of friction for five years, as Waste Pro continues to do business with the city of Port St. Joe until Oct. 1.
“It just seems like some kind of sabotage to me,” Quinn said.
County attorney Jeremy Novak noted that county employees had already picked up more than 400 Waste Pro cans since the contract ended, “another breach” of a contract which is currently the subject of litigation.
Dead Lakes, golf course
The golf pro hired by the county to assume responsibilities at St. Joseph Bay Golf Club is onboard and the county has identified a bidder to take over the restaurant.
That bidder was Provision’s, which has a downtown Port St. Joe location; Yeager said the county would enter into negotiations with the restaurant’s owners.
The county is also to begin interviews with the companies that replied to a request for proposals to develop and operate Dead Lakes Park.
In effect, Yeager said, the county was seeking a lease agreement with a company for the park’s 30 acres to develop and operate a campground.
Dead Lakes had become self-supporting before Hurricane Michael.