Closure of Wabasso Beach Park for repairs delayed by high tides

PHOTO BY BRENDA AHEARN

Residents and tourists will be able to keep swimming, surfing and sunbathing at Wabasso Beach Park for a while longer, after a scheduled beach-repair closure was put off due to ocean conditions.

The county’s Public Works Coastal Engineering team is expected to decide in the coming week when Wabasso Beach Park will be temporarily closed to accommodate the ongoing, $14 million beach restoration project on the island’s northern tier.

The busy-season closure, which is necessary to complete the southern end of the first phase of the project, initially was scheduled for Feb. 17 to allow sand to be placed northward from the park.

However, county spokesperson Kathleen Keenan said recent high tides prevented sand trucks from accessing the beach in that area.

“The team had to adjust its schedule and the beach will remain open until a later date,” Keenan said, “but we’ll provide advance notice once the date is set.”

The first phase of the project, which began Jan. 4, must be completed by April 30, before the official start of the sea turtle nesting season.

In the meantime, work continues at Golden Sands Beach Park, which serves as a base for sand placement to the north and south. That park will remain closed through the duration of the project.

Further north, Treasure Shores Beach Park reopened Monday.

Work on the county’s northernmost beach sector, which is managed by the Sebastian Inlet District, was completed earlier.

When the first phase of the beach restoration project is done, the county’s Fort Pierce-based contractor, Guettler Brothers Construction, will have placed more than 380,000 cubic yards of sand onto a 3.7-mile stretch from Wabasso Beach northward to the Seaview subdivision.

“The sand is being placed on the dune as well as on the berm, including in the water, resulting in a wider beach,” the county’s website stated. “Following sand placement, native dune grasses are installed along the dune.”

The two-phase project – it was scheduled across two fiscal years to spread out the cost – became necessary after the county’s beaches and dune sustained significant erosion damage during hurricanes Matthew (2016), Irma (2017) and Dorian (2019).

The cost is being covered by nearly $6 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency hurricane-reimbursement funds and more than $8 million in local tourist taxes.

The project’s second phase, which will cover nearly 3 miles from Wabasso Beach Park southward to the Turtle Trail beach access, isn’t scheduled to begin until November and be completed by April 30, 2022. That phase is currently budgeted at about $13 million.

The project had been delayed for more than a year because the county had problems obtaining permission from beachfront property owners to access the dunes on their property.

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