City joins in $7 million seawall grant request

In a follow-up to several prior articles that appeared in Historic City News concerning the original coquina seawall along Avenida Menendez, commissioners voted to join in a memorandum of understanding last night to proceed with a new seawall — 12 feet further into the Matanzas River.

Responding to concerns that the proposed $7 million seawall project would destroy the original coquina seawall, City Manager John Regan said during the St. Augustine City Commission meeting Monday, “When this plan was developed — first was protection of the original seawall and second was flood protection.”

However, it is the flood protection aspect that justifies the grant application to obtain funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. At the core of the issue, according to the published application for funding, is a statement that the City suffered “significant damage to the St. Augustine Seawall during Tropical Storm Faye in 2008.”

Plans presented last night call for exposing more of the original seawall as a new, stronger, barrier is built twelve feet further out into the bay. The tidal surge will no longer wash along the existing seawall and you will be able to walk between the original seawall and the new fortified seawall if construction funding materializes.

The new seawall, extending 1,200 feet along the Matanzas River from the vicinity of the Santa Maria Restaurant south to the Florida National Guard facilities, would therefore aid in the preservation of the original coquina wall — which would be visible along a promenade.

Commissioner Bill Leary addressed concerns by residents that the city will be required to come up with $2 million in matching funds in order to obtain the $7 million in required financing. “All we’re doing tonight is joining in a memorandum of agreement,” Leary said. “We haven’t got the grant at this time.”

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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