PINE ISLAND — County Commissioner Jim Adkins jokes that people have frequented the beach at Pine Island so much that they ended up taking large quantities of sand home with them in their shoes.
People started complaining there wasn’t enough sand left to enjoy themselves, he said.
This week, trucks started bringing in more sand to Alfred McKethan Park at Pine Island. Nine truckloads of sand totaling some 400 tons, to be exact.
The county typically replenishes the sand every January or February but, given recent weather conditions and a smaller-than-normal shipment of sand the last time out, the beach was starting to look a bit bare.
“Any time you have a beach, you have to re-nourish it,” Adkins said.
County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes said he was alerted to the problem by Willy Kochounian, who runs the beachside café at the park.
Dukes said it’s been awhile since Pine Island has been replenished with new sand. The tides there, he said, run high and overrun the seawall, causing erosion.
“We’ve had some pretty rough weather,” Dukes said. “The tides have been really high.”
If nothing was done, the beach area would disappear and that is not an option, Dukes said.
“Pine Island is a public beach, it’s county property and it has to be maintained,” he said.
Parks supervisor Roy Link said he is timing the sand deliveries so it won’t interfere with people’s enjoyment.
“We’re trying to keep the park open to the public,” Link said.
When crews are finished at Pine Island, they will deliver another roughly 100 tons of sand to Rogers Park, off Shoal Line Boulevard, which also is in need.
Rainy and windy weather this year has played havoc with both parks but it’s not as bad as the No-Name storm of 1993, when Pine Island was stripped bare of sand right down to the hard bottom.
Link said one solution to the erosion problem is to raise the seawall at Pine Island about two feet to prevent the sand from washing away. The idea, which is estimated to cost about $80,000, has been discussed but never acted upon, he said.
For now, Link said this latest shipment of sand should satisfy beachgoers and he is hoping no major storm comes along to ruin conditions.
“We’re just trying to keep our heads above water,” he said.