Posted on September 28, 2021
The Village of Key Biscayne’s ongoing request for federal assistance in combating beach erosion, rising seas and other effects of climate change has taken another step forward, said Roland Simimy, the village’s first chief resilience and sustainability officer.
“It looks like we will live to fight another day,” he said. “We are going to be moving forward with the county in the Army Corps of Engineers’ Tentatively Selected Project.”
The county is the Corps’ non-federal partner.
Although Key Biscayne won inclusion more than a year ago in the Miami-Dade County Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Program – tasked with deciding whether to renew the federal Shoreline Protection Program for another 50 years – “this is a milestone,” Dr. Simimy said, “because the county is proceeding to the next step with Key Biscayne included. It was very possible that it would not be included in the Tentatively Selected Project. There are still a lot of steps to go, but this is very positive.”
Next on the agenda is the development of a draft report of the Tentatively Selected Project that will be presented for public comment, he said, followed by discussions between the Army Corps of Engineers and the county regarding optimizing or refining the Tentatively Selected Project.
Since incorporation in 1991, the village has been footing most of the expense for maintaining its waterfront. It would benefit from a 65%-35% cost share on shoreline protection projects undertaken in collaboration with the Corps.
Located between two large waterfront parks on a barrier island connected to Miami Beach by the Rickenbacker Causeway, the Village of Key Biscayne has historically taken a proactive approach to preservation.
Earlier this year the village undertook a two-month project to repair damages incurred during Hurricane Irma in 2017 as well as natural erosion. The project involved widening the beach with the addition of 31,000 cubic yards of sand. The dunes were also restored, exotic plants pulled up and native species replanted.
The project was partially funded by grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Division of Emergency Management. The Village Council kicked in with self-funding for enough additional sand to bring the total to the amount consistent with maximum shoreline protection.
The office of Resilience & Sustainability, a division of the Department of Public Works, collaborates with Public Works to prepare the village and its residents for the chronic stresses of climate change and acute environmental shocks such as hurricanes
In addition to implementing shoreline protection strategies, Resilience & Sustainability is charged with upgrading critical infrastructure such as roads and the storm water system, protecting electrical and communications assets through undergrounding, and evolving building and zoning codes to support new solutions to climate change and sea level rise.