- Associated Press - Sunday, March 27, 2016

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (AP) - Chunks of concrete and rusty metal have dotted the sand on the north end of Tybee Island in recent years.

Before they were moved to dry land in recent weeks, the concrete and metal chunks had spent the last few decades sometimes submerged, sometimes exposed in the water off North Beach as part of a sea wall and steel system.

Island officials have worked for years to find the money and permits to remove them, The Savannah Morning News reported (http://bit.ly/1UHXUl5).

Repeated attempts to get federal support failed, but a recent beach renourishment project presented Tybee leaders with an opportunity to get rid of the derelict structures once and for all.

Last year, state officials cleared Tybee to use $1.3 million left over from Georgia’s contribution to sand renourishment for the removal. Work began last fall.

By the time vacationers arrive on the island en masse this summer, there will be no evidence the decaying structures ever existed, officials said.

“There were areas of the beach that as they eroded, were basically closed to swimmers. … I’m surprised nobody got seriously injured on those when they were exposed,” Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman told the Savannah newspaper. “That’s no longer going to be the case. Those things will be gone, and it’ll be much safer.”

A new entrance plaza will also soon greet visitors to the island near Savannah.

Sewer lines were being connected to the new plaza for North Beach, and the project appears to be on path to a May completion, said councilman Bill Garbett, a member of Tybee Island’s infrastructure committee.

The new restrooms, showers, changing rooms and concession will replace a decades-old concrete-block restrooms facility that has already been removed.

Buelterman said those improvements and several others are part of Tybee Island’s annual effort to complete improvements during the off-season.

“Basically every offseason, we want to get things completed,” he said. “We’ve just done a lot more this year than we usually do. … There’s a few (other) things that I would’ve liked to get done, but we’ll keep plugging ahead and keep working.”

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