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Coastline is changing, beaches at risk
PERDIDO KEY -- Protecting our most precious asset -- Our coastline is constantly changing, putting our beaches -- and the tourist dollars they generate -- at risk. That's the case on Perdido Key.
We all love this 'one of a kind' white sand and the crystal clear water.
But beaches -- like the one on Perdido Key -- are actually in danger.
Erosion is the enemy -- stripping away our 'one of a kind' sand -- and in the process endangering our property and our local economy.
There is a fix -- but getting there is the problem. Serving the greater good is the reason government exists.
Our goal today is to protect everybody's personal property value as soon as possible. I don't have any more time to waste," said Commissioner Gene Valentino.
But how can you best protect those who don't even realize they need protection?
Sections of Perdido Key are critically eroded, the beach is wasting away.
Even going into the water it drops off terribly. It's hard for children. It's hard for me, when you get older to go up and down, to get out of the water. There's no sea oats, no dunes, nothing to protect anymore," said Perdido Key Condo Owner Lyla Klansky.
District Two Commissioner Gene Valentino has a plan; a beach nourishment project that will help restore the sands. The permit is in place. The funding was secured with matching millions from the state. The project is shovel ready. But it's not that easy. Easements or the lack thereof, put the project on hold.
"We just lost $4 million in a matching grant from the state of Florida. That $8 million was going to be used to do this beach over," said Valentino.
The Board of County Commissioners discussed the prospect of using eminent domain to get things moving, but support for such a measure shifted when several commissioners, including District Fours Grover Robinson, realized that only 30 percent of the easements have been signed.
"I think we need to do a better job of asking the citizens what is there real picture, because it looks, at first, like they're telling us they don't want renourishment. I can't believe that's the case. But it's going to be tough for me to vote for eminent domain, especially as a realtor, to vote for eminent domain when you don't even have a majority of the people telling us they want to go do something," said Robinson.
The county is planning to increase the efforts to inform property owners of the peril they face, hoping to protect the lifeblood of the local economy, and the tourist tax dollars that help fund the county coffers.
"You know from the standpoint of people wanting to come here and play in the sand, and you know buy beach buckets here and go out there, I think it's pretty important," said Judy Davis of Perdido Key Souvenirs.
Money for this nourishment project is like picking up sand in your hands.
The longer you wait -- the more is slips through your fingers -- and nothing gets done.