The bigger picture – Beach ReNourishment

It may be useful to take a broader look at the entirety of the Pelican Landing community … let’s extend our curiosity beyond the Tennis Center management issues to see what else may be of concern to residents.  While Pelican Landing is generally a wonderful community, there are issues of concern that lurk beneath that lovely surface …
For example, consider the beach and the possibility of what we face there.  While the issue of the “initial” expense is important,  most residents are completely in the dark regarding the basic details of the proposed renourishment and the associated long-term liabilities.
  1. Did you know that everything we build/renourish beyond approximately where today’s high-water mark is will be a Public Beach?
  2. and that our accretion rights will be lost forever if we move forward?
  3. Did you know that, should this project move forward, the State of Florida will hold PLCA (aka you) responsible for any adverse conditions the proposed cement structures may cause to lands north or south of our “public” beach?
  4.  If this project moves forward, the beach we create will be public land yet PLCA will be responsible to monitor and maintain a public beach!

This could prove to be a miserable long-term debacle with liability issues the current board has thus far seemed either unwilling to evaluate or unable to consider in any reasonably objective fashion.

The bulb must be turned on to shed light on any number of circumstances throughout PL – the beach is one gigantic issue that requires full disclosure.  Perhaps this would get the attention of the general population as these combined issues are (or will be) costly.
Until the PLCA makes a commitment to transparency and accountability the residents of Pelican Landing will continue to be kept in the dark.  Your PLCA Board of Directors has the ability to obligate you and every property owner to be held responsible for decisions they make – some in perpetuity – the beach renourishment is one example.
Should one look casually at the big picture, on the surface Pelican Landing looks good.  If you delve into the details the picture is murky.
Concerned Resident, Anne Cramer

4 thoughts on “The bigger picture – Beach ReNourishment

  1. Pingback: Re: Beach ReNourishment … a good read | Unofficial Community News and Blog

  2. Fellow Residents:
    Here is a copy of an e-mail I recieved from a resident. The silent majority is beginning to see the problems within the PLCA and is speaking up.

    Based on posts by Anne Cramer I think the beach renewal project has taken on a new posture. Apparently as late as this past April, the state environmental protection body has ruled in a way that would make the renewed beach a public facility and PL would take on the responsibility of maintaining it. I don’t pretend to know the nuances of such a possibility but just based on Anne’s statements it looks very ominous indeed. In addition PL would open itself to liability should our actions cause damage to beach property in the vicinity. Moreover, Hyatt has indicated that it will not support financially any renourishment should it be necessary in the future. Whether Hyatt would have to be in compliance with the state regs and become a party to any litigation opened by third parties are further questions that occur. It is however entirely possible that they, Hyatt, intend to separate themselves from any possible financial and/or legal involvement.

    Unlike many activities that become controversial in PL, this beach plan has the potential of causing severe financial outcomes for the community. I think of the late Visioning Project where everything on everyone’s wish list was considered but the cost could have risen as I recall north of 10 or 12 million with bonding the probable necessity. In that case cooler and well placed heads prevailed. The beach is another potentially very expensive undertaking with one important difference. The whole idea of beach protection has huge risks attached and severe regulatory oversight is constant and if anything, increasingly restrictive and protective of public responsibility and expense when things go wrong. And they will go wrong…no one ought to think the beach can be renewed one year and not be prepared to do it again and again depending on factors that are totally unpredictable and totally beyond human control. One example: while living on Longboat, one major, and hugely expensive renourishment lasted fewer than six months and was followed by another in a year or so and yet a third a few years later…all three within 10 or so years.

    In the PL case I don’t see that anyone is looking carefully at the risks, particularly now that the state requirements and their implications are better known and Hyatt’s policy has been authoritatively articulated. My assessment is that the project has a nearly unlimited risk profile with no apparent way of either measuring the money that might become involved or the likelihood of significantly destructive natural and or human-caused events. Moreover, what it means to be a public facility in terms of operational responsibility and liability has had no analysis that I am aware of. Given those developments it seems clearly necessary to reopen FORMAL consideration of the project…both to obtain the best possible estimate of risk and to fully inform the community. How to attain this review is the question.

    Obviously, I am writing to you in the hope that you will get involved, if you are not already. The BOD may be so entrenched in the project that they are unwilling to take a second look in the face of new information.( At least new to me). If that is the case, some kind of community-based action needs to result in a study group or other device to shed the light on the project and its risks and demand the attention of the BOD. Perhaps you and others like Anne Cramer can get something started. I would think your legal background would be invaluable. As I think of my own experience with project/program risk and profitability evaluation, had I ever recommended to a BOD that a project go ahead without assessment of both the known and the imponderables, such as those facing PL in this instance, they would have asked me to clean out my desk. Please let me know what you think.

    • The bottom line has always been how much do the residents of Pelican Landing want the beach amenity? Not as we would like it, but as it must be if we are to retain use of it.

      Clearly the beach on the water side of the mean high tide line has always been public. Clearly we lost the debate with the state on where the boundaries of our land vs public land will be from now on. They insist that they be established by the current rather than former mean high tide lines. “They” trumps “we”. Clearly the current funds sunk in pursuing the project are the way through which we’ve learned all that we know today. Today we are where we are, not where we hoped to be. Clearly, and always, there are financial risks in owning any property, but higher when the property is waterfront.

      Now, given all of that, how much do the residents of Pelican Landing want the beach amenity?

      We could do nothing at the risk of losing all of the beach amenity to mother nature. If that time only lasted one day, as I understand it, then the island came back, it would all be public lands (I assume that we could still enjoy it but would have to share it with the rest of the public). Or we could be lucky enough to enjoy the current situation for years. For no further investment.

      We could increase the odds of a fortunate outcome by continuing the re-nourishment/groin process and spending the money that’s been allocated to it. But some risks of owning beach property would continue forever. (This prompts the thought: is there a substantially cheaper groin but without re-nourishment project that would better our odds of enjoying today’s island?)

      How much do the residents of Pelican Landing want the beach amenity? Enough to finance the risk reduction or not?

      Business people in situations similar to this would try to establish some guesses of the odds associated with each outcome.

      Spend nothing. What are the odds per year of losing everything?

      Spend the re-nourishment funds. How does that change the odds of losing everything? Or having our enjoyment compromised by public use? What are the odds of having to make further investment decisions beyond spending the re-nourishment funds?

      I’ll be first to admit that I have no idea of these probabilities. I do know that we enjoy the beach amenity, though relatively infrequently, but someday will “enjoy” what they add to our property values.

      Perhaps there are some ex “bookies” out there who could give us some clues on these odds.

      “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
      Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
      — Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)

      Pete and Judy Zuris

      • I respect your thoughts on a business approach to moving ahead or nor concerning this project. However, one of your statements needs clarification. You state “We could do nothing at the risk of losing all of the beach amenity to mother nature. If that time only lasted one day, as I understand it, then the island came back, it would all be public lands.” This may or may not be true. If we do nothing and allow mother nature to do as she may, then the concept of erosion and accretion apply per State Statute. Under this scenario, any land lost due to erosion becomes State Land under the water. Any land the accretes and grows out into the Gulf becomes our land no matter how far it goes out into the Gulf.The Statutes confirm that lands come and go and ocean front landowners always own up to 20 feet landward of the moving high water mark. All that changes if you artificially add sand to the shore line. As we have found out, you (PLCA) loses their rights to accretion if we place place sand on the beach. Under the re-nourishment scenario, any land lost to the Gulf becomes State land and any land that accretes or grows out into the Gulf is also State land.

        PLCA recently spent lots of legal money trying to claim that there was a catastrophic hurricane event that caused our loss of beach and attempted to get a ruling that the above principals do not apply to our situation. We lost the ruling.
        This conversation is a good example of the lack of knowledge the general membership has concerning this project and why the PLCA Board should conduct a bias free educational program so the residents clearly know the risks and rewards and the long and short term financial ramifications of this project.

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