APSTA Community Meeting on Road Repair & Protection
The Alligator Point St Teresa Association conducted a community meeting was held at the Mission by the Sea Church at 10:00 am on Saturday, June 9, 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the community of the current status of planned repair work on Alligator Drive, and to discuss a proposal to protect the road and gauge public sentiment regarding how that protection should be funded.
Gail Riegelmayer, a professional facilitator, was on hand to help participants stay on topic and to maintain an orderly process. She went over the meeting format and announced that a straw poll would be taken at the conclusion of the meeting.
Straw poll results at the conclusion of this report.
Franklin County Director of Administrative Services, Alan Pierce began the presentation by giving a brief history of the road situation beginning in 1977 when the state transferred Alligator Drive to Franklin County. The first revetment was constructed following the 1985 hurricane season and greatly improved in 1994. Hurricane Dennis prompted FEMA to mandate the road be rerouted and offered funding to move the road behind the KOA property on Tom Roberts Road.
In 2016 Hurricane Hermine severely damaged the Alligator Drive Eastern section of the by-pass which is now a one way dirt road. It is that section of road which is slated for repair by FEMA estimated to begin in the spring of 2019.
Unfortunately, shortly after Hurricane Hermine hit Alligator Point, Hurricane Mathew hit almost all of the east coast of Florida and caused FEMA to shift its focus to that area, putting our repair down the priority list. Before FEMA authorized repair work could begin, an environmental assessment had to take place. Then because of the size of the project, a Large Project Notification (Project # PW228) review period was required.
The repair work (on the section which is now the one way dirt road) estimated to cost a total of $ 3.2 million dollars, was scheduled to be funded by FEMA (75%), State of Florida (12.5%), and Franklin County (12.5%). Governor Scott authorized a partial waiver of county share with the State covering all but $200,000 of the total match required. That $200k will be taken from the Bald Point Trust Fund.
APSTA Board member, Jim McCloy noted that issue #1 (road repair) is a done deal. Issue #2 (road protection) was the primary focus of the meeting. Options which have been considered include…
-beach renourishment (DEP and RESTORE* funding is available);
-building a bridge to span damaged section (cost prohibitive; no funding available)
-move road inland (would require use of eminent domain); no funding available)
– repair the road east and west of the dirt road to mitigate erosion (no funding available)
– wait and take our chances the road will wash out in the vulnerable areas? If nothing is done property owners may find themselves with another destroyed road following the next storm. FEMA will probably help, but repair may take another two or more years.
Franklin County wants to hear from the property owners. While they realize that Alligator Drive is vulnerable to erosion, they do not have the funding available to construct any kind of protection measures. The sections most vulnerable are approximately 1000 feet East of the dirt road and 1000 feet West of where Tom Roberts meets Alligator Drive in front of the Fire House.
Renourishment for approximately one mile to protect the vulnerable section of Alligator Drive currently appears to be the only option with currently existing, available funding for the initial work/installation. It does, however, require periodic maintenance; the renourishment (sand) would essentially have to be replaced, on average, every 8 years at a projected cost of Two Million Dollars. An annual set-aside/collection of additional yearly funds to be earmarked for this purpose would be $250,000 a year.
Options for funding the $250,000 annual set aside to renourish every 8 years include;
-make Alligator Drive a toll road (construction/maintenance costs of a toll gantry are very
high and may not be a viable option).
-Another option would be to have a simpler toll collection system which requires lower overhead costs
-institute a Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) assessment on local property owners
-a combination toll system/MSBU
-do nothing, and look to Franklin County to Franklin County government to decide what to do- but no toll road, no MSBU or tax increase.
It is unknown what an MSBU would cost individual property owners. It would depend what geographical area would be included in the assessment, if it would be prorated depending on access to the beach and other factors to be determined.
The facilitator encouraged those in attendance to share questions and possible solutions. The following is a summary of issues raised and answers to some of the questions from the APTA representatives and Alan Pierce.
Questions Regarding Road Repair:
-What is the life expectancy of sheet piling? Approximately 20 years depending on storm activity.
-Is there a solution to the current dust situation along damaged road section?
-How far out from current road would sheet piling be placed? Likely between 30-50’.
-At the traffic signal headed West the 15mph speed limit sign on damaged section sits right next to a 25 mph sign. One of them needs to be removed.
-What is the cost of extending sheet piling beyond proposed area? Approximately $1,000/linear
Foot; No funding for this solution.
Questions comments regarding Road Protection:
-There is a private revetment 200’ east of proposed road repair. Is it possible to tie the two
together? Unable to say at this time. Would need to research.
-Where would a toll gate be located? Unknown at this time.
-Wouldn’t sheet piling increase erosion at either end? It would. Beach renourishment would
help alleviate erosion.
-Would MSBU funds be dedicated exclusively to maintenance costs? Yes.
-Are there other funding options, ie, paid parking lot? Yes, that would be recommended.
DEP funding for renourishment would require 100 parking spaces and a restroom facility.
-Why haven’t T-groins or breakwaters been considered? Both were addressed in the Mike
Dombrowski study 10 years ago. They are hugely expensive and would not be funded at all by DEP.
-A tiered MSBU assessment is unfair. Can it be more evenly spread? Unknown at this time.
-Something must be done now. The beach is everything to this community.
-Is this a problem only to owners west of the damaged road, or the entire community?
Everyone’s property value is impacted by a threatened road.
-There was concern that there is not enough information to make an informed decision.
-Can “bed tax” money be used towards maintenance costs? It might be possible, but would require a significant reallocation of where that money is currently being spent.
-Where will proposed 100 parking spaces and restroom be located? Likely the KOA area.
-DEP and RESTORE funding is available…we should make use of it.
-Would the addition of a 100-space parking area result in the closing of some of the current beach access?
Audience members were asked to cast their straw ballots before leaving. The meeting concluded at 11:55am.
*RESTORE funds are funds allocated to the 8 counties in the Panhandle who were affected by the BP oil spill in 2010.
108 ballots were issued at the meeting. 88 votes were cast. Some votes were not cast and some were turned in with written comments in without a vote.
Straw Ballot results:
Option 1. I am in favor of a toll road to fund road protection 4 votes
Option 2. I am in favor of an MSBU tax to fund road protection 8 votes
Option 3. I am in favor of a combination toll and MSBU to fund road protection 38 votes
Option 4. I don’t want to pay anything for road protection – leave it to Franklin County government to decide what to do – but no toll road, MSBU or tax increase. 38 votes