Debate continues over how to pay for beach renourishment in Ponte Vedra Beach

Meantime, renourishment project in Vilano Beach continues

Beach renourishment project in Vilano Beach continues as seen from Sky4 (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A tense debate in St. Johns County Tuesday, over a long-planned dune restoration project in Ponte Vedra Beach. About a dozen residents spoke at a commission meeting over how to pay for the plan.

The total cost of the project is $40 million. The state will pick up $30 million, and St. Johns County will get $8.4 million. That leaves a shortfall of $1.6 million, plus annual maintenance costs.

The emergency management department is proposing splitting it between two taxing districts, homeowners on the south of the beach would pay more than those on the north side.

Many residents spoke at the commission meeting, asking them to keep it equal.

Commissioner Harry Dean has served longest on the Commission. He and fellow member Krista Joseph were clearly at odds on funding.

Dean and others believe it’s best to split the funding into two separate districts.

Joseph wants everyone to contribute the same percentages.

“I do not think that this is creating such a divisive situation based on the people I talked to. I know there are those who have met with that feel like that the MSD levy should either be not imposed or the lower right. And frankly, we just have to disagree or agree to disagree on that point,” Dean said.

“The people that were on the board with you coming to that conclusion are not here anymore for a reason because it’s time to change the guard and let me tell you, I’ve been talking to everyone on that street. And I don’t know who you’re talking to, but there may be three people that you’re talking to but this is unfair to them,” Joseph said.

Before voting, commissioners heard from about a dozen people supporting Commissioner Joseph.

The residents criticized the two-tier plan.

Joseph was the only commissioner to object to the funding plan with two taxing districts.

She offered an amendment but no one would second the motion.

Once the easements are obtained and the contracts awarded, the work is expected to take five-to-six months.

Further south in Vilano Beach, a beach renourishment project there continues. There’s equipment in the sand and a dredging tube in the ocean. Crews are bringing in off-shore sand and placing it along the beach.

The project in Vilano Beach is set to be complete in March.

About the Authors:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.