Q&A: West End Focus
Why do you seem to be focused only on the West End?
First of all, it is significant to note that, of the 14
miles that constitute the entire length of Dauphin Island, approximately 11 of those miles
are THE WEST END. All those miles on the West End are what protect the
Mississippi Sound and the coastal communities north of the island.
No West End - Is this our future?
(click to enlarge)
Dauphin Island with her West End
Dauphin Island without her West End
(Is this our future?)
The Task Force has no desire to foster an East End
versus West End mentality, nor do we ignore East End issues. This
Task Force is made up of people from both sides of the island, as well
as off-islanders. We wish to see all problem areas on the island
repaired. There is erosion on the East End as well, and it should
also be addressed.
But we also wish to set priorities with regard to areas that
are most in danger and most in need of an interim solution until a
long-term solution can be put in place. And we seek to dispel any
myths and misperceptions people may harbor about one side of the island
The Task Force has placed its current focus on the West
End "crisis areas" for a number of reasons, which are outlined below.
The East End is a much wider portion of the island,
so there is less threat of full north-south breach there.
The public beach of the East End - the Audubon Bird
Sanctuary beach - has only a few
thousand feet of shoreline compared to the miles of public beach
shoreline on the
Since there are no homes or roads immediately to the
north of the Audubon Bird Sanctuary public beach (as is the case on the West
End), any erosion occurring there does not encroach upon infrastructure
to the north.
Yes, the homes of Audubon Place, a private gated
community, are being threatened by eroding beach, but the beach
south of that development is private. No public beach, in or out
of the water, exists south of that development at all.
The Public Beach
of the East End
(click photo to enlarge)
It is argued by some that funds to restore the West End
will only help private property, and that monies should instead be spent
to restore the shoreline of the East End. Yet restoration of any
Gulf-side/south shore beachfront on the East End (other
than the public beach of the Audubon Bird Sanctuary) would be to
restore - you guessed it - private
An East End restoration study is being
done right now, and that study is being paid for by a taxpayer-funded
If one believes that public funds should be spent to
restore public property, then this argument bodes well for
restoration of the West End since there is roughly 8 times more public Gulf-front shoreline on the West End than on the East.
This is not to say
that we do not want to see any eroded Eastern shoreline restored - of course we
do! We simply want to point out the facts to address the public-versus-private property perceptions
which some seem to foster about each end of the island.
A stunning amount of footage of West End shoreline has been lost
just in the last few years. January and February 2010 have been
especially cruel, with storm after storm bringing seemingly endless rain
and powerful wave action to overwash the roads and threaten homes.
Many more people have lost homes, or paid staggering amounts to move
them. The increasing overwash puts the roads out of commission
which prohibits people's access, and threatens to breach the island,
Katrina Cut style, in vulnerable spots.
The public beach of the West End is roughly 4 miles
in length. The entire length of the inhabited portion of the
West End, south of the First Tier Gulf-front houses, is public beach
(though much of it is underwater at present).
The Public Beaches of the West End
(click photo to enlarge)
The long West End also protects the mainland towns and
the estuarine environments in the Sound. (See
Why Save Dauphin
Restoration of the West End Gulf-side beachfront to
its pre-Katrina width would restore mostly public land, not just private
property. (See Photos)
If the erosion is not contained, it may be only a matter
of time before the new Gulf of Mexico tideline meets Bienville
Blvd, then creeps north of Bienville, and then perhaps one day in the
not-too-distant future, all that
will be left of the West End are shoals and a sandbar. The erosion has been accelerating at an
alarming and unnatural
rate (see Erosion and
Dredging). In the areas west
of Raphael Semmes, multiple feet of
shore width are being lost each MONTH.
Considering the massive loss of public beach (in
addition to the hundreds of homes
and miles of infrastructure currently threatened), the West End appears to be the area most in
crisis at the present time.
That said, the Task Force wants to emphasize that we wish to
see shoreline restoration for the entire island.
Don't Think Small - Look at the Big Picture
We would not have to debate which areas of the island
need to be restored first if Dauphin Island received more funding.
If we could get funding the likes of which other locales have received
(see Fun(ding) Facts), there
would be plenty of money to go around - for East End, West End and
everything in between.
The Task Force seeks to rectify that imbalance. No
one wants to see tax dollars "wasted." But as long as funding
programs exist for the very purpose of restoring public lands after
disasters, or protecting both public and private property against future
disaster, why should Dauphin Island be left out? Why should some
areas get hundreds of millions in funding while we play tug-of-war over
Other coastal communities are united on the issue of
pursuing major funding, and the result is that they are raking in the
dollars while the communities which are fractured in purpose and without
common goals are passed over or given small change by comparison.
Any "us against them" attitude between East and West is
misplaced focus. It forces the fight in the wrong direction.
Other locales profit from our lack of unity and gobble up the lion's
share of funding. We should all
pull together to lobby for attention from grant programs and other
funding sources in order to help us all.
Until we have unity, and we all work toward pursuing a
larger purse, we will champion the focus for our minimal funding to be on specific
in-crisis areas to avoid further loss. There's no sense in buying
new deck chairs for a leaky or sinking ship. New facilities are
great - and we want them! - but it will be difficult for them to stay in
business if the tourist population of the island is cut by half.
Proposed interim solution not just for West
Note that the interim shoreline stabilization solution
proposed by the Task Force includes all public beach areas of the
Gulf-front shoreline, not just those on the West End. (See our
Public Funds for Private