ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County has hired a coastal engineering firm to conduct a study in the Summer Haven area to try to figure out the best way forward after a strong nor’easter caused damage there last fall.
News4JAX has obtained the contract the county signed with INTERA-GEC LLC of Austin, Texas showing the company will be paid more than $361,000 to do a seven-month study. It’s expected to be the most comprehensive survey ever done of the coastal areas north and south of the Matanzas Inlet.
The study comes after a strong November nor’easter created a new breach in Summer Haven in southern St. Johns County.
INTERA-GEC will evaluate potential solutions, from sea walls to dune restoration and geo-tube dunes to a retreat, which would mean abandoning shoreline development along Summer Haven. Each of the potential solutions will be assessed for public benefits, the extent of property protection, constructability and cost.
The company plans to incorporate public comment and hold at least one town hall meeting during the study.
St. Johns County officials are beginning to come to grips with the losing battle with the ocean in the area, where there was a significant breach from the nor’easter two weeks ago.
“The ocean is taking the land back,” said one commissioner.
Another commissioner called Summer Haven the “most volatile stretch of beach” in Florida, and suggested it’s time to consider buying out homeowners there.
County officials estimate erosion from the nor’easter in the Summer Haven area will cost more than $1 million to repair. They say they can’t continue to pay millions for solutions that will keep getting washed away by storms.
The county told residents it has spent more than $10 million since 2008 in addressing erosion issues in the area.