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Lenny Curry on beach restoration: ‘We’re done’

Duval County’s beaches took a hit from Hurricane Matthew last year. As another Hurricane Season is upon us, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Beaches Mayors, and Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Gulliford discussed beach restoration on Wednesday in Atlantic Beach.

Among those efforts: beach re-nourishment, planting of dune vegetation, dune restoration, and other efforts via the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that Duval’s beaches provide a protective buffer for beach communities.

While Jacksonville still waits for $26M from FEMA for reimbursement from damages created by the last storm, these ongoing beach recovery efforts continue, Curry and the Beaches Mayors said Wednesday.

“This is an example of government working,” Curry said, of recognizing the “urgency” of the “crisis” and reacting.

This project — a “culmination of what we’ve seen in Jacksonville the last couple of years” in terms of cooperation — was completed despite the Beaches being “devastated” by Hurricane Matthew.

“Bill Gulliford stepped up, the Mayors stepped up,” Curry said.

Of the $22 million that went into beach restoration, $7.5M of that came from the Jacksonville City Council, and Councilman Bill Gulliford was key in ensuring those funds came to pass.

Gulliford, who lives just a short walk from the presser, deemed it “incredible” that dunes are getting restored so quickly.

“The Mayor was behind us the whole time,” Gulliford noted.

There’s still work to do, of course, beyond restoration.

The Jacksonville Beach pier lost 300 feet of span in Hurricane Matthew; Gulliford noted that assessment is underway to determine what can be saved and, perhaps, reused — though there is no fixed timetable for when that may come to pass.

And lessons were learned also: Atlantic Beach Mayor Mitch Reeves noted that his city and other beach communities are looking to fund walkovers, instead of walk throughs; the idea is to curb erosion during severe storms.

Sea oats — 620,000 of them — are being planted. And the Army Corps of Engineers has provided 5,000 cubic yards of sand for spot repairs.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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