Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nature Is Taking Away Beach Access Crossovers; Sand Is Building on the Dune Walks; Community Groups Aren't Helping Remove It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nature Is Taking Away Beach Access Crossovers; Sand Is Building on the Dune Walks; Community Groups Aren't Helping Remove It

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

JACKSONVILLE BEACH - Little progress has been made on clearing sand from some of the beach access dune walkovers and a city official warned some public access points could be lost to nature.

In September, Assistant City Manager Roy Paxson said several of the 35 wooden dune crossovers have sand building on them and he called on community groups to help clear some of the walkovers. No one has really responded so far.

"Public Works has discussed this with the Boy Scouts of America and they have expressed interest," Paxson said Thursday. "But they are asking for heavy equipment at the sites and the state would prevent that because of dune preservation."

That's the problem with maintenance on some of the dune crossover accesses, Paxson said. Since no heavy equipment, such as backhoes or bulldozers, can be used, the sand must be cleared manually, and having city crews clear all the access points by hand would be too expensive.

If the sand encroachment, which has been building since the crossovers were built within the last five years, continues at the current rate, which is accelerating due to tropical storms and nor'easters, some of the dune crossovers could be lost if they're not cleared, Paxson said.

"The state only allows us to excavate what's on the crossovers," he said. "At some point we may end up losing some of our crossovers. Essentially it would make it so that you would have to use one of the other crossovers a half a block or a block away. ... It's Mother Nature stopping the access."

Some civic groups were alarmed at the prospect of losing public beach access points.

Tamil Singh, executive committee member of the First Coast chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, said the beach access advocacy group is concerned.

"That's a lot scary. What if they all get covered? It is a scary thought to lose any beach access that was there before," said Singh. "I live at the beach, I live in Neptune Beach and I go to Jacksonville Beach so it does make me stop and think that maybe something should be done and something should happen. …

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