By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The City of Miami Beach held their monthly Sustainability and Resiliency Committee (SRC) session yesterday, October 23rd, at 1PM, which provides oversight for hundreds of millions of dollars in public spending.
The committee is chaired by City Commissioner Mark Samuelian, and the October session was officially extended from two hours to three hours, as more time was needed to cover everything on the agenda.
The agenda items included reports on resiliency projects and a Sustainability Committee update. Also action items ranged from discussion of the city partnering with FPL Evolution program to expand EV-charging stations in Miami Beach (sponsored by Commissioner Samuelian), to the grand jury report regarding the health of Biscayne Bay.
Commissioner Samuelian shared the most significant news coming out of yesterday’s session may be regarding the delayed Palm-Hibiscus project, and an explanation of the hold-up by Miami-Dade’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM).
“The Palm-Hibiscus project, which started in 2016 has been significantly delayed causing much angst and concern with residents” Samuelian shared. “[During that time] more than 200 drainage structures, on both public and private property, were installed without approval of DERM, which has been a major problem.”
The commission had invited the head of DERM and County Commissioner Eileen Higgins to attend, this is where they shared what the issues were. Samuelian said it was time to “Fix it, fix it fast, and learn from the mistakes.”
With oversight for many neighborhood improvement projects, the current SRC report lists a $287 million budget split into three categories, In Design, Pre-Construction and Construction.
In the Design stage are seven projects budgeted at roughly $111 million, and in Pre-construction there is one project budgeted at $1.4 million. The remaining $176 million in funds are being spent on six projects in Construction. The largest project is the $79 million West Avenue improvements in South Beach, expected to break ground in January.
The only project listed as completed in the October report is the Venetian Islands Neighborhood Improvements in South Beach. Over $37 million was budgeted to perform site preparation, earthwork, demolition, storm drainage, roadway, concrete valley gutters, paving and grading, water main, lighting, and planting.
Additional scope added included installation of six stormwater pump stations, two per island, and automated meter reading technology. All six pump stations are reported as operational, and pending DERM final approvals.
The Sustainability and Resiliency Committee sessions are open to the public at the Commission Chamber, 3rd floor, City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive. They are also streamed live on the city’s web site and also available after 24 hours as archived videos for those not able to attend.
The SRC was created in 2015 with the goal to develop policies and promote practices related to improving resilience to coastal flooding, sea level rise and other climate related vulnerabilities, and provide guidance for other adaptation/mitigation planning efforts. There will not be a meeting in November, so the next session is planned for December.
Correction: On October 26th this article was updated to reflect that the next session scheduled.