Bay County TDC moves forward with $21 million beach renourishment project at St. Andrews State Park

Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 6:39 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s one of the most popular beaches in Bay County. On any warm sunny day, St. Andrews State Park is packed with people. And with less sand to be on, it’s even more crowded.

We hear about renourishment projects along the sandy beaches in Panama City Beach all the time. And while the state park does do small renourishments, taking up sand from the pass and putting it onto the beach, it has never done a complete restoration before. But tourism officials said it’s time to change that. They’re looking to give people a little more room and widen the sandy beach.

A hot spot for locals and tourists alike, St. Andrews State Park was surveyed as the third most visited attraction in the county. Whether you want to swim, snorkel, or surf, it’s the place to be. But consistent use and strong storms have taken a toll on the sandy beach.

“It’s very popular. it’s heavily used. and it’s heavily eroded at this point. The dunes have been heavily impacted,” Lisa Armbruster, Beach Management Consultant for the Panama City Beach CVB, said. “So it’s in great need of beach restoration so that people can continue to use it.”

Thursday, tourism officials agreed to take the next step in restoring roughly a mile of beach at the state park, which is the only piece yet to have a full-scale renourishment. The process consists of dredging up sand from the bottom of the Gulf and stacking it on the beach.

“People are aware we’ve renourished Panama City Beach several times,” Armbruster said. “This is the first restoration at the park, however, that’s ever been done.”

Officials said the smaller nourishment efforts just aren’t enough.

“The state park, the pass, the cut, the channel as we all call it. it causes erosion in the state park so we’re constantly fighting a battle of losing sand there. The state park renourishes when they can from the pass. they pull sand out. But it just isn’t enough up,” Bay County TDC member Philip “Griff” Griffitts said.

It won’t be cheap. The project is expected to cost roughly $21 million, all fronted by Bay County if commissioners sign off on it. But nearly $15 million of it is being paid for with grant money. Tourism officials said the $6 million difference will be well worth it.

“It will add between 150, to upwards of 350 feet of beach width so it’ll be very noticeable to people that have gone out there before the project and who go out there afterward,” Armbruster said.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the project at the regularly-scheduled county meeting on September 20th.

Officials said they expect construction to start in the fall, and the entire project to take roughly two to three months to complete.

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