Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hoteliers propose bringing back the beach to Clearwater Pass

A decade ago, a beach stretched along the north bank of Clearwater Pass, but currents, storms and waves have pushed most of that sand under the Sand Key bridge and into the channel.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

A decade ago, a beach stretched along the north bank of Clearwater Pass, but currents, storms and waves have pushed most of that sand under the Sand Key bridge and into the channel.

CLEARWATER — Hoteliers want to bring back the beach along Clearwater Pass, a development sure to cheer spring breakers and sun worshippers.

But the proposed, privately funded beach replenishment project is raising concerns that more sand will lure swimmers into dangerous currents that have claimed two lives this year.

A decade ago, a good-sized beach stretched along the north bank of Clearwater Pass, a boat channel between Clearwater Beach and Sand Key that connects the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway. But currents, storms and waves have pushed most of that sand eastward under the Sand Key bridge and into the channel.

Shephard's Beach Resort and the Quality Hotel Beach Resort want to spend about $800,000 for coastal engineers to install groins on their properties to tame the currents and restore the beach. Rocks and tubes filled with sand will be employed to trap sand swept along by the current.

The plan was presented to the City Council last week, although no city money or city permits are required. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pinellas County and the state Department of Environmental Protection all have to sign off on the project, a process that could take up to two years, said Kevin Bodge, a coastal engineer working for the hotels.

The City Council unanimously gave its support to the project at Thursday's meeting, though Vice Mayor Paul Gibson said he was concerned that restoring the beach could increase the likelihood of tragedy.

"The current there is vicious … At high and low tides, it's like a river," Gibson said.

Bill Morris, the city Marine and Aviation Department director, said the city can post signs warning swimmers of the danger.

The project has been kicked around since the late 1990s, Morris said. Originally, the state proposed the restoration. In 2006, many of the beach hoteliers came close to financing it, but the economy soured.

Other hotels or property owners along the pass support the project and may contribute financially to expand it, Morris said.

Ocean Properties, a global hotel developer, and JMC Communities, a St. Petersburg-based developer, own the large Marquesas site next to the Sand Key Bridge. They recently announced plans to build a condo and hotel project on the site and were enthusiastic about restoring a beach to their property, although no final decision has been made, Morris said.

Mayor George Cretekos wondered if instead of piecemeal restoration projects, the beach along the entire pass could be fixed.

Any such effort would cost more than $10 million, probably around $14 million because of all of the infrastructure required, Morris said.

Public beach access to Shephard's and Quality properties is currently underwater, he said.

Paul Andrews, general manager for Shephard's, said the hotel will have a 20-foot wide public access corridor on the eastern side of the resort.

"We're in the beach business and they're willing to pay for everything. I totally support it," said City Council member Jay Polglaze.

Charlie Frago can be reached at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago

Hoteliers propose bringing back the beach to Clearwater Pass 11/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 6:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. State Dept.: U.S. to block Americans from traveling to North Korea

    World

    The Trump administration plans to prohibit Americans from traveling to North Korea, the State Department announced Friday, citing serious risks of arrest and imprisonment in the isolated totalitarian state.

    Student Otto Warmbier, 22, died June 19 after being released from North Korea in a coma.
  2. Man dies after losing control of pickup in Dade City

    Accidents

    DADE CITY — A man died Friday after he lost control of his pickup truck through a bend in the road and collided with an oncoming car, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Teens recorded drowning man and laughed, but face no charges

    Criminal

    Authorities say a group of teens who watched, laughed and made a video as a man drowned in a retention pond can be charged with failure to report a death.

    Jamel Dunn, 31, drowned July 9 in Cocoa.
  4. After huge sinkhole opens, residents weigh future with unease

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — The wood floors creak each time Kendra Denzik dashes inside her darkened home to grab fresh clothes. She can't help but panic when they do.

    Eleven families along Ocean Pines Drive in Land O’Lakes homes are fenced in due to the massive sinkhole from last Friday on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The Doohen’s are among 11 families who had to evacuate from their homes.
  5. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]