Look at this picture carefully. It is a reflection of well-intended efforts by Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to restore and stabilize the embankment on the edge of the lagoon in DuBois Park, Jupiter Inlet, Jupiter, FL. This picture was taken on September 7, 2011.
ERM installed a 3 tier industrial grade vinyl sheet-pile system less than 2 years ago. The picture shows huge sandbags (red arrows) that were placed at the base of the first tier. Their only purpose: To prevent undermining of the first tier through erosion caused by water flow.
There have been no changes in water flow through this area before or since the installation of the sheet-pile system. It appears as though designers of this solution simply overlooked its effect upon the completed project.
It has been necessary to sandbag the entire length of the sheet pile system, which has in-turn necessitated installation of a flimsy rope barrier to keep people away from a dangerous situation. One could otherwise have their foot caught between the sandbag and the corrugated vinyl. That could easily result in a sprained or broken ankle. Unfortunately, the rope barrier and the sandbags stand in the way of lifeguards in the event of an emergency.
There have been three deaths and a near-drowning of a young child in DuBois Park in the past 3 years, all in swimming related accidents.
There is one significant difference between this installation and the proposed installation at Cato’s Bridge Beach: The proposed installation will not include the attractive “cap” that has been placed on top of each tier of corrugated, industrial-grade vinyl. The appearance of the proposed solution will be more consistent with this image:
Perhaps public scrutiny of the plan might not have prevented this problem, but the current procedures definitely did not prevent it from happening. As the same body (ERM) prepares to install a similar system, the community is well within its rights to demand a cost-benefit analysis and the opportunity for input.