Local tourism officials are already making plans for millions of dollars in state and federal grants to rebuild the sand on our hurricane-damaged beaches, but they want to make sure the beaches look as good, or better, than they did before Hurricane Ivan washed away the sand.
More than 2.5 million cubic yards of sand washed away when Ivan set his sights on Bay County. Thankfully Bay County officials had insurance. Back in 1999 the TDC helped set up the federally protected zone and now Congress is paying up.
But there are some obstacles to overcome before they start pumping sand onto the beach. First, there is the issue of color of the sand. In years past the darker shell laden sand of earlier dredge projects has angered locals.
Lisa Heckman, the TDC’s coastal engineer, says this time coastal engineers think they have that problem solved.
"They're going to show us the sand before they start on the 18 mile long project and at that point the TDC can either approve or disapprove the project. So they will actually have the sand in front of them."
Another concern for some is the Pinnacle Port and Carillon Beach area. This section of beach is Bay County's hardest hi, but it is not included in the renourishment project because it is considered all private beach and public tax dollars can’t be used.
Debbie Flack is the project consultant and says, “The other option is to work with the TDC to see if there's some way to add on to the project, not at a federal cost, but as a contract amendment."
The project must start before next hurricane season or the county loses the federal funding.
The TDC board of directors should approve sand samples by the end of January.