Crews dumping 1,600 tons of sand on Bathtub Reef Beach, in preparation for Sandy

From the roof of Paul Zuccarini's four-story house on Macarthur Boulevard in Stuart, you cannot hear the waves of Bathtub Reef Beach across the street. Instead, it's the sound of trucks and tractors.

 

"In a way, I'm happy to hear it," said Zuccarini, who's lived in the Hutchinson Island home since 1984.

 

Crews are dumping sand in preparation for Hurricane Sandy and trying to compensate for the erosion from Tropical Storm Isaac. The county engineering department ordered the shoring yesterday.

 

This stretch of Hutchinson Island is narrow. There are only a few hundred feet between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, in some places. For both the county and homeowners like Zuccarini, there is fear the road will wash away because of the rough surf and wind that's expected later this week. 

 

The county is spending $25,000 to haul and dump 1,600 tons of sand from a Fort Pierce mine. Crews spent much of Wednesday piling about 1,000 pounds on the dunes, to block potential waves.

 

"It is such an important part of Martin County to preserve this beach and have it open to the public. Folks come here from all around the state, if not the country," said Gabriella Ferraro, Martin County communications and outreach coordinator. 

 

The construction has temporarily shut down Bathtub Beach. 

 

"We were so looking forward to see it, you know?" asked Carlos Peolley, a Port St. Lucie resident who brought his family for a beach day at the tourist destination. 

 

Zuccarini is glad for the shoring, as a short-term solution. But he says the county needs to realize how much money it's spent over the year and plan for the long-term.

 

"If they analyze that and then analyze how much it would cost to build a permanent bulk head and then restore the beach on the other side of the bulk head, that would be the best possible end game," Zuccarini said.

 

Of course, not everyone would agree. 

 

Crews say the shoring will probably finish Friday. Then county leaders will hold their breath, hoping the sand holds up.

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