APSTA Road Committee Report
June 8, 2019
There has been real movement on the status of Alligator Drive Repair and Protection over the past 2 months. On April 24th Franklin County issued a joint statement with FCMC informing everyone that the Alligator Drive Repair was reverting back to the most recent plan (5-6 months ago) which essentially keeps the road repair within the current right of way and includes sheet pilings / concrete walls as the last line of defense from mother nature. Committee member Feifer worked with Alan Pierce to reveal the conflicting regulatory issues that limited the success of the voluntary sale/purchase of designated properties along the proposed new right of way. This important information convinced all agencies involved that, due to time constraints, the buyout program was no longer a viable option for current repair. That decision prompted the joint statement mentioned above and brought us to this point. The home / lot voluntary buyout program will continue as funding becomes available. But repair of Alligator Drive is no longer dependent on its success or completion.
While the pre-construction process for Alligator Drive repair is ongoing and subject to possible modification, these developments have given all parties a firm target, established a projected date of July 18, 2019 for opening of construction bids, and generated a FDEP mandated completion date of April 2020. After more than 2 years, our community now has a definitive plan and a real schedule in development for repair of Alligator Drive. The road committee will continue to monitor progress on the repair project and keep you informed.
These developments have effectively transferred the committee’s main focus from repair of Alligator Drive, to protection of the repairs once they are completed. We are all aware that no man-made, on grade structure directly adjacent to the Gulf; no matter how well built, can withstand a direct, hurricane strength blow from Mother Nature. For the Alligator Drive repair to provide a long-term solution it must be armored with redundant protective measures to the seaward side of its current position. With those facts in mind the Road Committee arranged a special meeting on Wednesday, May 15 with Commissioner Boldt, Alan Pierce (F.C. Administrative services) and F.C. McColm Consulting (Frank McColm, Sarah Kelty). Its purpose was to position APSTA as an active team member in the process, offer community assistance / feedback to Franklin County and FCMC on possible protection options, and to establish a smooth, consistent flow of information between all parties to expedite and improve the process.
There were several significant takeaways from the meeting and subsequent discussions afterwards:
1) After further discussion and additional feedback from Mr. Pierce, regarding APSTA’s proposed funding of an outside appraisal firm to provide details on property values, it was determined that the possible benefits would probably not justify the expense outlay. The road committee therefore recommends to the APSTA board that we cancel that initiative.
2) Alan Pierce confirmed that the east end of Chip Morrison Drive will not be repaired as part of this project. All homeowners currently have access to their homes from the west end of Chip Morrison.
3) The Role of F.C. McColm Consulting in the process has been misunderstood since the beginning. Their role is, unfortunately, not to take the lead in developing solutions, but to identify possible sources of funding and integrate those into the process as determined by others (FEMA, FDEP, etc). They are paid by the State and serve more as a Facilitator and Expediter for Franklin County, working between the many State, Federal, and County agencies to develop the most advantageous methods to achieve the goal of repairing and protecting Alligator drive.
4) Due to currently available funding sources and established State precedent (other similar projects), beach nourishment is the most efficient, achievable, first line of defense for the roadway protection. FCMC is actively seeking other programs and funding sources that may create redundancies and additional protection (t-groins, gabion baskets, breakwaters, etc). While nothing is off the table; the possibilities are limited by program availability and sufficient funding.
5) The extent of the current roadway protection/beach nourishment plan extends from roughly the east end of the 1200 block of Alligator Drive to the walkover on Chip Morrison Drive (approx. 1.1 miles). This project is strictly associated with the long-term protection of Alligator Drive and concentrated along the area most vulnerable to damage by future storms. It does not involve other areas on The Point or Bald Point.
6) Funding for the initial 8-10 million dollar beach nourishment project: The discussions centered on review of information compiled during the previous nourishment plan (2016-2017). Projected funds would be supplied through:
a) 5 mil in FDEP funds (must be applied for by County and approved by Legislature in 2020 session. Time restrictions apply)
b) 5 mil contribution from Franklin County’s Restore funds. It should be noted here that the construction of a new park at the old KOA location is still mandated in order to receive the FDEP funds.
7) Funding for the 8 -10 year, 2 - 2.5 mil maintenance cycle of beach nourishment: The discussions centered around the realities of Franklin County requiring some type of local taxpayer funding for the benefit received, property owners requesting funding contributions from outside users (renters / leases via TDC bed tax), and property owners requesting some benefit from the mandated new park; it was determined that the best current funding option would be generated by some combination of the below sources:
a) Taxpayer MSBU: (the extent of which and the amounts assessed are yet to be determined)
b) TDC tourism/bed tax: (the amount is yet to be determined) (The County and TDC are currently considering a 1 cent rise in the tourism / bed tax that could affect this source significantly)
c) User fees for new 100 vehicle public access park: (the amount has yet to be determined, but would likely mirror Bald Point - $4.00 per vehicle) (discussions included the APSTA proposed closing the current beach access points to the public and dedicating those areas to exclusive use of property owners and renters. A simple permit / sticker system to monitor usage has been mentioned in previous discussions).
8) Application by Franklin County for FDEP funding will need to be completed without delay to receive consideration in the next legislative cycle.
9) MSBU parameters will need to be determined in regards to: a) overall designated area, b) overall number of homes and lots in designated area, c) method of assessing the MSBU (flat rate, tiered flat rate, percentage of value, etc). The road committee is working along with Franklin County to gather information in these areas in an effort to build several possible workable scenarios, but answers to each of these questions and compliance with regulations will require input from professionals in the field. Franklin County will likely hire a firm to assist in working out these details.
10) All present agreed to continue with called meetings as details become clearer and the need arises. And to maintain active communications between those meetings.
11) Once numbers, figures, estimates, funding sources, etc. begin to get clearer and there is accurate information to share, APSTA plans to sponsor public meetings for the community to provide input / suggestions, and to have questions answered.
FYI, on May 30th FC McColm applied for a grant (for Franklin County) that could supply additional funding for studies on how best to protect our beaches from flooding and erosion. Our president, and others in the community sent letters of support that accompanied the application. If awarded we hope to have additional info available.
The road committee itself met on Sunday, June 2. Members unable to attend the May 15th meeting were brought up to date on developments and further discussions were held regarding details. In particular those concerning the funding options that have been identified as those most likely to be acceptable to all parties concerned.
Duties were divided among members for research into actual home and lot numbers on the Point and the Alligator Point fire district, information on TDC funding percentages, and details on the timing of regulatory requirements throughout the process. Please remember, we are attempting to keep you informed based on the facts as we know them at this time, while there seems to be some momentum building towards a comprehensive resolution for road protection, nothing is certain at this point. There are a multitude of moving parts and we are in the early stages, but we hope to provide additional information at our July Board meeting.
Andrea Novak, Chair