Sticks and stones Barriers protect homes from pounding Patapsco River PASADENA

December 24, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

If not for a few sticks of wood and a pile of rocks, Jim Seifert says he and his neighbors could kiss their homes goodbye.

The Patapsco River pounds the Riviera Beach peninsula year-round, especially during northeasterly storms. Without the timber bulkheads and stone riprap that the community bought through the Riviera Beach Erosion Control District, "a lot of people would lose their houses," he said.

Now, the Riviera Beach Community Improvement Association is planning repairs to those bulkheads and new erosion control projects for 1993, said Mr. Seifert, treasurer of the group administering the Erosion Control District. The association must send a budget for the County Council's approval by Jan. 31.

More than 1,300 homeowners in Riviera Beach, Surfside and Rock Creek Estates pay additional property taxes each year to ** maintain the shoreline between the Fort Smallwood Road bridge and Main Avenue. The district spans the peninsula between Stoney and Rock creeks.

Last year, the district collected $49,750. That amounts to $40 to $60 per household, depending on individual assessments.

"If we had a vote on it, the average person would probably say they don't want it. Nobody wants to pay a tax," Mr. Seifert said. But, he added, "that water is awful powerful."

The special tax district was set up nearly 40 years ago, shortly after the first homes in Riviera Beach were built, to finance repairs and annual maintenance on the original bulkheads. Since then, residents have taken additional action to preserve the shoreline.

This year, for example, the district spent $90,000 installing beach beams, concrete barriers that resemble highway jersey walls with vertical slots cut into them, to halt the erosion of sand from the community beach.

Mr. Seifert, who has lived in "The Beach" for 27 years, remembered when the strip of sand separating Lake Riviera -- also known as Frog Pond -- from the Patapsco River was 50 feet wide. Now, it's less than 20 feet.

If a northeaster washes the remainder of the beach away, it would flood the pond and possibly the homes along its banks, Mr. Seifert said.

Other projects in this year's $205,000 budget included bulkhead repairs near the mouth of Stoney Creek and dumping large stone, or riprap, along the Patapsco shoreline near Carroll Road and at the Surfside beach.

Gene Hatfield, association president, said he will tour the community shoreline with a marine contractor to identify any maintenance needs for the coming year. Homeowners also can alert him to problem areas.

He said the new district budget will be advertised in the association's January newsletter. Residents of Rock Creek Estates will be mailed copies.

For information, contact Mr. Hatfield at 255-2068.

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