Posted on November 17, 2020
Key Biscayne’s long term beach management received a major boost Friday as officials learned the village has been included in the Miami-Dade County Coastal Storm Risk Management feasibility study being developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — the first step in possible inclusion of a 50-year plan.
The Corps of Engineers reversed a move made in May 2019 and approved a waiver allowing Key Biscayne back into the feasibility study.
Outgoing Village Manager Andrea Agha, in a group email to staff and others under the subject line “We’re in!” wrote: “We are one HUGE step closer to the more stable beach management program for Key Biscayne via the 50 year federal shoreline protection project!!!!!!”
The federal grant program consisted of two parts — a feasibility study now being conducted by the Army Corps, and then an implementation plan. When the village was knocked out of the study in 2019 it was because it did not meet federal access requirements, namely an insufficient number of public beach access points and public transportation not located within a quarter mile of those access points.
“We resolved that issue and presented a plan to the Army Corps as to how we are going to work to get additional access points,’’ said Agha, noting that village staff has been working on getting easements for new access points with residents’ and condos groups.
“Gaining that public access was definitely one of the conditions that we had to meet to be accepted,” she said. “We will need to get at least two.”
The other problem had been lack of parking, which Agha said was defended by noting the unique characteristics of Key Biscayne and the availability of the FreeBee service, she said:
“Although we didn’t meet their standard definition as to parking we were able to explain that we had a free on-demand transportation service (FreeBee). We’re a walkable island. People don’t (always) come and park.”
Being included in the feasibility is positive news for Key Biscayne, but it is only the first step in a longer process, with the overall goal to be included in the 50-year shoreline protection program, she said.
Ongoing beach nourishment projects cost between $2.5 million and $5 million. “The problem we have is there is no mechanism in place that keeps the sand on our beaches’’ which could come in the form of offshore breakwaters, she said.
The program is cost sharing with 65 percent coming from the federal government and 35 percent to be covered by the Village of Key Biscayne.