Holiday tourists too close to nourishment

Bulldozers, floodlights and construction workers lined the beach Christmas Eve, turning the white sand in Holmes Beach into a construction site.

Stephanie and Phil Perry and their children, visiting from Toronto, were surprised to find a renourishment project obscuring their view and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

“We didn’t know, and it’s right in front of where we’re staying. We’re just disappointed it happened this week and it’s big. We just picked the wrong time,” Stephanie said.

The Perrys rented a condo in the 6000 block of Holmes Beach. They said they had tried, since arriving, to contact the owners of the condo.

“It’s unfortunate we weren’t informed. We paid a premium for this week,” Phil said.

Floodlights illuminated the beach in front of their condo at night and noise from the construction equipment began at 7 a.m. Dec. 24, the Perrys said.

The dredge company started pumping sand Dec. 21 and the work continues.

The Canadian visitors are familiar with waterfront projects, having vacationed at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina for the past six years.

“We’ve never seen it so close, and we were thinking about the sea turtles with the floodlights on at night,” Stephanie said.

However, the project posed no threat to the sea turtles and nesting season, which ended Oct. 31.

The timing for the Perrys’ holiday vacation did not work out so well for them, as the couple and their two small children had to carry their beach gear around the construction to reach the water.

But the timing worked out well for the sea turtles and, if all goes according to plan, Phase 1 of renourishment should be completed before tourist season peaks in February. A second phase will take place at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.

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