City agrees to temporary storage location for sand ahead of emergency dredging

Matt Algarin
The mouth of the Destin harbor is once again in need of dredging, according to longtime Destin boat captains. City officials say the mouth was last cleaned out in 2010.

With a unanimous vote Tuesday afternoon, city leaders entered into an agreement to place dredge spoils from the Old Pass Lagoon onto the Galic Pointe, LLC property on Norriego Point.

By agreeing to use the Galic Pointe property, which was formerly the Pointe One project, city staffers say they will be able to dredge twice as much sand. As part of the agreement, the city will leave behind 20 percent of the dredged sand as "compensation" for the temporary storage.

For example, if the city were to dredge 15,000-cubic yards of sand, it would keep 12,000-cubic yards, while leaving behind 3,000-cubic yards.

"We felt that was a fairly reasonable payment to that property owner," Public Services Director Steve Schmidt said. "This will allow us to dredge the channel, more or less, to its fully permitted depth and width."

Since passing an emergency resolution to dredge the choked up navigational channel and harbor mouth back in March, city staffers had been working to secure the permits needed to not only dredge, but to store the spoils until they can be placed along the eroding point.

Two alternative sites were available, but they both were determined to be "inadequate," Schmidt told his colleagues.

The first option was to place the sand on top of the existing sand dune on Norriego Point, but it would destroy the sea oats that had recently been planted. A second option was to place the sand in an off-site location and truck it back and forth. At approximately $6-a-cubic-yard for transportation one way, the idea was scrapped.

Based on the relocation of roughly 5,000-cubic yards of sand, it would take about 270 dump truck trips, which is a lot of "wear and tear," Schmidt told The Log Wednesday. That doesn't account for the added cost of hiring a company to load and unload the sand at a different location.

With the sand located on an adjacent property, Schmidt said it would cost the city about $3-a-cubic-yard, or less, to move the sand where it was needed. However, Schmidt said that could be done in-house to save money.

The city is allowed to store up to 15,000-cubic yards of sand on the Galic Pointe property, per the agreement, and all spoils must be removed within nine months, according to the city's Land Use Attorney Scott Shirley. As of Wednesday, they were only looking to dredge about 10,000-cubic yards.

After the sand is dredged from the channel and harbor mouth, Schmidt said it would more than likely stay put on the Galic Pointe property until the city obtains a Joint Coastal Permit (JCP) from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. A JCP is a multi-jurisdictional permit that is reviewed by any organization that has "a dog in this hunt," which in this case would be The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others.

Once the JCP is issued to the city, sand can be placed almost anywhere the city desires, even on the submerged lands of Norriego Point.

"This is the permit that gives us the authorization for the full Norriego Point stabilization," Schmidt said.

City leaders held a special bid committee meeting Wednesday, where a contractor's bid was selected for the project. The contractor must be approved by the city council, which is expected to happen during Monday night's regular City Council meeting at 6 p.m. at the City Hall Annex.

The dredge project, which is being funded by the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council though bed tax funds, must be completed by May 24. The TDC will fund no more than $180,000 for the project, and the city of Destin will kick in $20,000.