Jackson County leaders are trying to find a way to stop the erosion on Front Beach in Ocean Springs and prevent an expensive, heavily used boardwalk from breaking.
As people enjoyed the sunny Sunday on Front Beach, it was hard not to notice the yellow tape surrounding a small section of the boardwalk in the area. Powerful wave action is washing away the sand on the beach and causing the sidewalk to crack. The decorative wall is also shifting out of place.
"Mother Nature is going to do what she wants," a resident said.
Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran and Jackson County board President Troy Ross said the beach erosion and sidewalk damage are unfortunate. They admit the small section of beach has been a growing problem.
"Since I was a child, this area has always scoured out. It is the wave action and the way that it approaches the beach from the diagonal," Moran said.
"With the heavy rainfall, the big rain event we had a week ago just put the icing on the cake. You can't have water lapping against a sidewalk that has sand underneath it, and the sand is eroding away underneath the sidewalk when it gets here," said Ross.
Right now, the county maintains the beach and the city is responsible for the sidewalk and repairing the wall. So, for a short term fix, the county plans spend $25,000 to replenish the beach with sand to help stabilize the sidewalk.
"That money comes out of a seawall tax that is designated for beach maintenance, but at the rate it is increasing, we are going to see less and less ability to do things," Ross said.
Moran is still considering some long term solutions.
"We really need a permanent fix, some type of green infrastructure, so that we can put some rocks and marsh plants along the shoreline, a living shoreline so to speak, to prevent further erosion," said Moran.
She is hoping grant money can also help guard the boardwalk and beach.
"In fact, we have already applied for a Sea Grant, where we can take some measures to protect the beach and the harbor and make us more storm resilient," said Moran.
At least 100 feet of sand will have to be used to replenish the problem spot. Ross said he expects the board to approve the project at Monday's board meeting.
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