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John’s Pass business owners risk losing waterfront property if city doesn’t fix sand blocking issue

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — More than 40 Madeira Beach businesses are worried they’re going to lose their waterfront property if the city doesn’t step up to help with a major sand blocking and drainage issue, which they say is creating a beach, where there once was water. Now, they are begging the city to fix it.Business owners along John’s Pass say that over the years, the water running through John’s Pass has continued to deposit sand clear up to the seawall, creating what they say is a dangerous beach area, and eliminating their waterfront property.“Where I’m standing right now, it should be about maybe 10-12 feet deep,” said Captain Dylan Hubbard, Owner of Hubbard’s Marina.But instead, the water around one of Hubbard’s Marina’s boats is ankle deep, and their Friendly Fisherman boat is once again stuck in the sand.“This boat gets stuck here typically between 1-2 times a year, and it takes us about 4-5 days to push the sand back, just to be able to run trips, so tomorrow morning we’re gonna have to get down here extra early, we’re gonna be standing in the water like I am now, trying to push this sand out,” said Hubbard.It’s just one of a growing list of problems that 45 business owners up and down John’s Pass are begging the city to fix.“Our jetty is overtaken with sand, the beach groins of Madeira Beach have long been overrun with sand,” said Hubbard.Hubbard says the problem was exacerbated following construction of the John’s Pass Bridge in 2006.“DOT came in here and they built this huge riprap construction area to build this new bridge, and when construction was finished, they moved all that material on the west side, or the Gulf side of the bridge, and took it out of here. Unfortunately, we have photographic evidence and plenty of eyewitness accounts, they left all of it here on the east side of the bridge, and that has just slowly accumulated more and more sand, and it’s exacerbated this issue to the point of where we are today,” said Hubbard.Currently, Hubbard’s Marina boats are weathering the storm, blocking the sand from extending farther down the pass, but if they move their boats, it becomes the next business’s problem“The slips will be unusable. These businesses, the boats that are operating here, the businesses that are operating here on the water will have yet another thing to worry about this year,” said Dustin O’Neal, Owner of Sunshine Scenic Tours/The Pirate Ship at John’s Pass.But the sand is creating problems other than a beach area where there shouldn’t be a beach. It’s also creating problems with storm drainage.“What’s happening, is sand is building up inside the pass, and as that sand builds up along the seawall here, along the other side of these buildings, it’s actually blocking the storm drains. So as you can see all this water here is from the rain that came through today, which, actually, today was light rain,” said O’Neal.John’s Pass Village regularly gets standing water on the roadway that has nowhere to go due to the storm drain being blocked with lots of sand. Hubbard said the city cleared the drain on June 5th. Here’s a photo taken by him on that day:And here’s a photo he says he took two days later:City of Madeira Beach Fire Chief, Clint Belk, is also asking the city for help. In a letter written by him to the city he said:“A lot of these boardwalk businesses watch these kids get swept off this beach every weekend, and they’re very concerned it’s just a matter of time before we see on the news, ‘someone died inside Johns Pass,’” said Hubbard.These businesses want a bandaid fix for now, and a long term fix to be started.“Lengthened jetties and strengthened beach groins along Madeira Beach to stop that longshore transmission,” said Hubbard.We’re working to find what the city is doing to stop this problem, so that the businesses and tourists along John’s Pass can enjoy their waterfront property for years to come.

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