By Jessica Sanchez and Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporters
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The City of Miami Beach held the first in a series of “Resilience Conversations” on Tuesday, September 17th, for the public to hear what Jacobs Engineering are proposing for Blue & Green Infrastructure (BGI) to ‘advance a more holistic living with water approach’.
The meeting was initially planned for Thursday, September 5th, but due to Hurricane Dorian it was postponed to Tuesday, September 17th. For those who were unable, to attend it was also streamed LIVE on MBTV, channel 99 on AT&T U-verse or channel 660 on Atlantic Broadband.
Officials presented the public discussion as an opportunity to learn how BGI enhances urban resilience by implementing blue (water) and green (plant-based) elements that mitigate flooding – as well as previewing BGI concepts being developed for Miami Beach.
As the Miami Herald reported, Miami Beach has committed at least $500 million dollars to keeping the city above water, through massive stormwater drainage pumps and raising streets.
The planning was provided by the Urban Land Institute, and on its recommendation the city hired a consulting firm, Jacobs Engineering, to revamp the city’s sea-rise plans including nature-based infrastructure.
Director of Public Works Roy Coley said, “[The] event was very productive and well attended, which provided Jacobs Engineering a good forum to illustrate the benefits and limitations of blue and green infrastructure and its applicability in our city.”
“I definitely heard great feedback from the residents in attendance and believe their input will undoubtedly produce a well-informed concept plan that identifies nature-based solutions to help mitigate against the city’s most timely threat, climate change.”
Jacobs Engineering Sustainability Lead Joe Rozza, told the Tuesday audience that at this stage the ideas were presented to city commission for consideration. After Jacobs presents the full list to the city commission next month, the firm can begin crafting specific design criteria packages for whichever projects the commission approves.
“To be 100 percent clear on this — we’re trying to create a vision of what’s possible. Nothing is a recommended project at this point,” he said. “What we’re putting together is a menu of really good practices.”
In regard to the ‘signature project’ of repurposing the city-owned golf course into a wetland “eco-district,” Matt Friesen, an urban designer with consultant Jacobs Engineering, said “realistically you’re looking at a ten-year horizon, minimum.”
The Tuesday audience was assured that the next steps are to compile and incorporate public input. The additional opportunities for input are a public comment period September 17th through the 24th; a sustainability and resiliency committee meeting on September 25th, and the commission meeting to be held on October 16th.
The Jacobs team also said that future neighborhood meetings for specific projects will be held, and lastly, grassroots efforts will be launched neighborhood by neighborhood.
Roy Coley explained “We anticipate that Jacobs will present the blue and green infrastructure concept plan to the City Commission in October. Having a fully investigated concept, that is also informed by residents and consists of elements widely accepted as best practices for the environment will streamline the process of developing project specific plans.”
“I am most excited about integrating blue and green infrastructure as a fundamental part of the new projects that will be designed in the future.”
For questions on BGSI, contact Monica R. Diaz, Infinite Source Communications Group at 305-579-0089 or Monica@iscprgroup.com. To learn more about the city’s progress on resilience initiatives, visit MB Rising.