Major step forward for the Key’s shoreline protection effort; Army Corps presentation set for Wednesday

He hasn’t popped the champagne cork yet, but Dr. Roland Samimy might be putting a bottle on ice.

Key Biscayne’s quest to protect its shoreline from storms and rising sea level took a giant step Friday afternoon by being included in the tentative U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coastal storm risk management plan for Miami-Dade County.

“It’s a good thing; it moves us one step down the road,” said Samimy, who joined the Village of Key Biscayne as its Chief Resiliency and Sustainability Officer in April 2020. “(But) I won’t be ready to celebrate until (we’re officially part of) the Water Resource Development Act (in 2022).”

Several steps would still have to be accomplished along the way, including funding approval by Congress, which could be some five years away with the actual construction completion of higher dunes closer to the 10-year range.

“It depends how quickly Congress moves,” Samimy said.

The estimated $120 million project would come with a 65-35 split, with the federal funds accounting for the majority of the construction to elevate dunes, perhaps 5 to 7 feet with an overall height of 12 feet in some locations along the oceanside beach. The 35% split also would be divided between the city, county and state in some fashion.

“Any money that we can get elsewhere is money that we can spend on other things that we can get done,” Samimy said.

“The Benefit Cost Ratios are favorable,” he added. “There’s no surprises (in the report).”

Copies of the report can be found by clicking here.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the Army Corps of Engineers will host two virtual presentations to give residents a better understanding of the plan.

To join in from 1-3 p.m. click here.

To join in from 6-8 p.m. click here.

Then, the next step includes community engagement, with residents being asked to submit comments or concerns by Dec. 12 to the Army Corps at or email directly to the Village.

Earlier this week, the Corps outlined a description of plans for the entire county, including Key Biscayne’s beach, which would benefit from the higher, reinforced dunes (developed with sheet pile and a concrete cap) and protective tie-back systems on the northern and southern boundaries of the Village.

Federal funds for this type of protection plan are only available every 50 years.

The $3 million feasibility report also proposes beach nourishment in certain areas between Baker’s Haulover Inlet and Government Cut, and an area in Bal Harbour.

Sand would come from various locations, including the Haulover Inlet Complex, nearshore areas of South Beach, offshore sand sources and upland sand mines.

Key Biscayne was not included in the original Tentatively Selected Plan, but it took a lot of “activation energy” from city leaders and Samimy. In fact, his first task with the Village was following through on the city’s petition to the Army Corps to get a waiver, so that the feasibility report campaign could be extended from three years to four, allowing the city to carefully present its case to be included. That happened last year.

“It was a team effort, so I wasn’t alone in making the push,”Samimy said. “This is a culmination of my efforts and other people’s efforts.

“I guess, though, I could consider this a personal milestone.”

The bubbly is chilling.


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