Town of Palm Beach News Release.
The Town of Palm Beach is dismissing its lawsuit against the Federal Government related to sand management at Lake Worth Inlet.
Citing a vastly improved working relationship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a list of accomplishments that have resulted from what she called "a great partnership," Mayor Coniglio urged the Town Council to authorize dismissal of the lawsuit at a special Town Council meeting this morning. Town Council voted unanimously to approve her recommendation.
The lawsuit was filed in early 2009 because, according to Mayor Coniglio, "we felt ignored, neglected, and stonewalled" by the Corps and "precious sand was being lost out at sea." She quickly added, however, that after about a year of active litigation, the parties refocused their efforts on working better together. "Thanks to the leadership of the Jacksonville District and Tim Murphy's outstanding boots on the ground project management, the last 3 years have brought improved communication, genuine collaboration, and positive outcomes for our shoreline and our community."
Representing the Corps at Wednesday's meeting were:
Colonel Alan Dodd, District Engineer
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Greco, Deputy District Engineer
Mr. David Hobbie, Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management
Mr. Tim Murphy, Project Manager
Mayor Coniglio thanked them "for all you have done to positively change both the tone and substance of the Corps' actions at Lake Worth Inlet." She specifically cited the following "breakthrough achievements":
* The Jacksonville District obtained Corps HQ approval to expand the sand settling basin on the north side of the inlet.
* The Corps dredged the expanded settling basin and the inlet, placing about 400,000 cubic yards of sand directly onto the beach at the north end of Palm Beach at no cost to the Town.
* The Corps and the Town have agreed that the standard practice going forward will always be to place inlet dredged sand on the beach, not in the ocean.
* During emergency situations when it is impossible to place the sand directly onto the beach, the Corps pledges to place the sand as close to the beach as possible ("ankle deep water" in the active surf zone rather than "nearshore" placement at water depths up to 17 feet).
* The Corps and the Town also have agreed to work together to place sand from future inlet maintenance projects on whatever part of the Palm Beach shoreline may need it most at that particular time.
* A "215 Agreement" that will allow the Corps to fully reimburse the Town for the cost of extending the sand transfer plant pipeline, if the Town decides to move forward with that project.
* The Corps sent the Town a letter committing to maintain a strong collaborative approach, including monthly conference calls, occasional face-to-face meetings, and cooperative action on all of these matters going forward.
The Mayor concluded her remarks Wednesday by stating: "We are partners and teammates. We are committed to each other's best interests and our communication is open and clear. We have achieved important successes together and we have plans to do more. This has made the pending litigation unnecessary. Therefore, I am asking the Town Council this morning to authorize Jerry Stouck of Greenburg Traurig to dismiss the Town's lawsuit."
After the Town Council voted to authorize dismissal of the lawsuit, Mayor Coniglio left the dais to offer an olive branch to Colonel Dodd and shake hands with the entire Corps delegation.