THERE’S MORE TO DO!
Although exceptional progress has been made since I took office six years ago to address long-standing issues in Hillsboro Beach, there is more to be done. With your support, I welcome the opportunity to have a final two-year term so that I may do the following:
The First Joint Beach Project with Deerfield Under the 2020 Agreement
While an agreement with Deerfield to manage our beaches jointly is the foundation for restoring our beach, each step of the joint process will require oversight to ensure the agreement is executed as intended and the interests of Hillsboro Beach residents are protected. It is extremely important that the first nourishment be done properly in order to set a valid precedent for future nourishments. With eight years of intense involvement as the primary spokesperson for our beach issues (six years on the Commission and two prior years as part of a citizens’ advocacy group), I am in a unique position to provide the necessary oversight on behalf of our residents.
Dredge-able Sand Sources for Future Beach Projects
The agreement with Deerfield is only the first step in restoring and maintaining our beach. Regional Sand Management in our coastal cell is also necessary. This involves identifying sand sources to be used for our joint projects. For Hillsboro Beach, the boundaries of our coastal cell are the Boca Inlet and the Hillsboro Inlet. These inlets play a crucial role in the health of our beach. Currently, 100% of the sand dredged from the Hillsboro Inlet is passed south to Pompano. According to a recently adopted Florida Statute, based on the seasonal change in the sand’s natural flow, approximately 30% of this sand should come back to Hillsboro Beach. Changing the current distribution of sand from the Hillsboro Inlet will not happen without direct involvement from Hillsboro Beach elected officials and staff.
In addition, new dredge-able sand sources must be identified with support from Hillsboro Beach elected officials, and the amount of sand bypassed to the south from the Boca Inlet must be challenged. Currently, there is a substantial shortfall from the Boca Inlet bypass which, as part of the settlement agreement with Deerfield, Deerfield staff is addressing.
FDOT Project to Rehabilitate A1A
I began pursuing this project in 2015 because of chronic flooding in the south end of Town that had gone unaddressed for years. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) agreed to add Hillsboro’s stretch of A1A to their 2021/2022 budget. Due to a reduction in State revenue as a result of COVID-19, the project has slipped into FDOT’s 2022/2023 budget, however, we’re fortunate funding for this project has not been cut. The challenge now is to see that the finished project meets the needs of Hillsboro Beach residents.
In February of 2015, residents spoke loudly and clearly against adding bike lanes on A1A when the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) proposed putting 5’ bike lanes on each side of the road throughout Town, and reducing the width of driving lanes to do so. The initial MPO proposal did not include any form of flood relief. The project was simply an initiative to make it easier for cyclists to use our Town as a thoroughfare, without considering the needs of Hillsboro Beach residents. Because there was so much dissention from Hillsboro Beach residents, the MPO completely dropped plans for the project.
In the fall of 2015, based on the tremendous need for flood control and because A1A is a State road, I initiated discussions with FDOT to address the flooding problem. FDOT agreed to alter the road to provide flood control IF some form of agreement on bike lanes could be reached. After extended discussions, it was agreed by the parties (FDOT, MPO, and the Town) that:
The new plan provided for actual “marked” 4’ bike lanes indicating cyclists MUST stay in the bike lanes. The 4’ bike lane was considered a compromise because drivers will be less frustrated if cyclists are required to stay in the bike lane, and cyclists will be safer with a marked 4’ lane rather than a shoulder that’s less than 3’ in many places.
To date, it’s proving to be a challenge to ensure the agreed-upon parameters are included in the final product, and to ensure flooding gets addressed properly as part of the project. Predictions are that by 2040 (just 19 years from now), sea level rise in Broward County will increase by 17”. As of yet, FDOT has not been willing to commit to a specific increase in road height. In addition, a pumping/drainage system needs to be part of the project to protect residents and property values in Hillsboro Beach. Making sure this project is executed as per the compromise reached will require firm, steadfast representation from Town officials. I am committed to standing firm on behalf of our residents.
Undergrounding Utility Lines
As a barrier island, we deal with hurricanes on a regular basis. Moving utility lines underground provides for much greater reliability. Following Hurricane Irma, FPL outage rates were estimated at 19% for underground lines versus 69% for concrete poles like those currently along A1A. The primary cause for storm-related outages is trees and limbs falling onto power lines. Today, we rely on electricity and electronics for nearly everything, including communication, entertainment and medical devices, in addition to basics like air conditioning and appliances. Our residents deserve the best protection we can provide against outages.
Besides improving reliability, underground lines will substantially elevate Hillsboro Beach aesthetics. You need only drive through an area that has underground utilities and pay attention to the absence of overhead lines with support poles to appreciate the difference. Obviously, improving the physical appearance of our Town increases desirability. This in turn leads to increased property values.
An initial evaluation has been completed estimating the cost of undergrounding FPL lines to be $4 million. Including all utilities, the cost is approximately, $6 million. It behooves the Town to be shovel-ready should funding become available for this project from several possible sources. Initial work has also been completed to identify necessary easements. Fortunately, the small boxes needed for undergrounded utilities are far less intrusive than concrete polls and wires. I am committed to seeing this project through to completion during my final term.
Holding a Commission seat is not an honorary title. If re-elected, just as I have during my prior tenure, I will dedicate the time and energy necessary to address these projects and more. Only by having elected officials who are willing to step up and go to bat for our residents’ best interests can Hillsboro Beach maintain property values and its reputation as the most desirable place to live in Broward County.
Burying Utility Lines Beautifies the Neighborhood!
Downed Power Lines after Hurricane Irma in 2017
The beach before a sand nourishment...
Severe Flooding at the South End of Town
...and after a sand nourishment!
The Beach - The Reason We All Live Here!