A fight over sand! The Pinellas County beaches we all love could be in jeopardy because of 60 missing easement signatures. Despite doing everything the county asked, several beachfront properties won’t be getting sand.
50 Gulfside Condominiums in Indian Rocks Beach is one building that got all 50 of its condo owners to sign off on an easement for a beach renourishment project planned to begin this December. The county required all beachfront property owners to sign the easement in order to add sand to those properties. However, the county needs 1,500 feet of beach to renourish each section, and that means if neighboring properties don't sign off, the entire area could be skipped.
50 Gulfside Condominiums has less than 300 feet of beachfront, and since their neighbors on both sides did not sign easements, they'll be skipped.
“This is extremely frustrating. Our sand dune right here used to extend out 15-20 feet past our deck," Jon Valesky explained, "As you can see now, there is literally nothing left. We need that extra sand bad to protect our property.”
10 properties to the South of 50 Gulfside Condos did not sign the easement, and another 2 didn't sign the easement to the North.
“It’s infuriating knowing that 50 families are in one spot and want it and just because one family next door doesn’t, so we’re out,” Valesky added.
The Army Corp of Engineers needs 15-hundred feet to add sand, and since Gulfside Condos has less than 300 feet of beach , they’ll be skipped.
Valesky says his neighbors are being selfish and putting the beaches we all love at risk in the next big storm.
Ron Gonzales disagrees. Gonzales is a property owner at Gulf Mariner Condominiums who didn't sign the easement. “It’s not being selfish, I think the county and the Corp of Engineers are being selfish trying to take our property and not working with us.”
Gonzales is one of 63 homeowners who didn’t sign the easement. He worries about giving the government control of his property and new sand dunes blocking his view, “The homeowners will lose total control of what happens on their beach.”
Even if Gonzales and others reconsidered, John Bishop of Pinellas County's Coastal Management Office says these property owners are out of luck. “It is too late the project is already out to bid, unfortunately.”
That means property owners will have to wait another 5-7 years until the next beach renourishment. Valesky hopes it doesn’t take a hurricane to change their minds about signing easements.
“If we get a storm this year, this sand is gone. It makes no sense to me,” he said with a sigh, “They’ll be the first to cry wolf when a hurricane plows through.”
The Sand Key Beach renourishment will begin in December.