Park seeks public comment on Draft Flamingo Commercial Services Plan
Contact: Fred Herling, 305-242-7704
Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
Everglades National Park is pleased to announce the release of the Draft Flamingo Commercial Services Plan / Environmental Assessment (Draft Plan). Dan Kimball, Superintendent of Everglades National Park, said today "this plan incorporates hundreds of comments from public meetings, mail-in comments, and the park’s interactive planning website. Superintendent Kimball also noted how he has clearly heard that Flamingo is a special place to many people. "Our challenge is to establish Flamingo, once again, as the ‘gateway’ to Florida Bay and the Wilderness Waterway," Kimball said. "We look forward to working with the public in the next phase of this planning effort. Only by working together can we reestablish Flamingo as a destination more memorable than ever."
The Draft Plan analyzes 3 alternatives for re-establishing commercial services and facilities at Flamingo destroyed by hurricanes in 2005. These storms caused overwhelming impacts to already aged facilities, and many of the visitor uses and services in Flamingo have been shut down or reduced since then.
NPS planning follows a regular process to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and generally offers at least three alternatives for consideration in plans of this type. The first is a no action alternative which would basically be services as they exist now, and two other alternatives that embrace other options raised in a public scoping process. The Draft Plan that includes these alternatives is then open for public comment and the final document will incorporate any additional input collected during the public comment period.
Everglades National Park’s Draft Plan is structured in this fashion and the alternatives are summarized below:
· Alternative A – No Action Alternative. This alternative is required to provide a baseline to measure impacts of the action alternatives on park resources and visitor experience. Concessions at Flamingo would function according to current uses, which primarily focus on day users. Only the campground and limited marina slips would be available for overnight use. Projects that have been approved for emergency hurricane funding (two replacement backcountry campsites, replacement employee housing, replacement maintenance facility, replacement amphitheater) or are necessary to provide current levels of basic services are also included in alternative A.
· Alternative B – "Flamingo Rebuilt". This alternative replaces the concessions and services that existed prior to the 2005 storms at Flamingo and brings back services offered in years past, but incorporates more modern conveniences and sustainable practices. The facility locations within the Flamingo area would generally remain the same, and the buildings and services offered would reproduce the "Old Flamingo" ambiance of the area. A number of new facilities are proposed in this alternative including: a lodge, cottages, swimming pool, and restaurant, located west of the visitor center to reduce the developed footprint in rebuilt areas.
· Alternative C – "Flamingo Redesigned". This alternative would offer a "New Flamingo" with a greater variety of structures and land- and water-based services and would establish the area as an eco-tourism destination. Overnight accommodations would include a new lodge, cottages, as well as ecotents. A creative set of sustainable principles suited to Flamingo’s particular environment would be used, including site design, energy management, water supply, waste prevention and "green" architecture. The site would be redesigned to consolidate related uses, minimize the need for utility extensions, and facilitate pedestrian and bicycle circulation.
Several elements would be common to all the alternatives considered including: demolition of the old lodge buildings and cottages, reconstruction or replacement of certain facilities damaged by past hurricanes, restoring areas to natural conditions no longer needed for facilities, incorporation of 2004 Florida Building Code requirements for the High Velocity Hurricane Zone and design to accommodate effects of potential sea level rise, incorporation of accessibility design requirements and sustainable design principles in the construction of new structures.
The park has not yet selected a preferred alternative. All alternatives are financially viable, but alternative C is the most financially advantageous alternative. Alternative C has been identified as the environmentally preferred alternative. Selection of a preferred alternative will follow analysis of public comment received on this Draft Plan. Once a preferred alternative has been identified, there will be a 30-day public review period before the Finding of No Significant Impact is issued. The selected alternative (and final CSP/EA) will be incorporated into the park’s General Management Plan (GMP), which is currently underway. Implementation of the CSP will begin as soon as funding becomes available.
Public workshops will be held from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. There will be a presentation at 7:00 p.m. with time before and after for the public to view project information, talk with park staff, and provide comments.
December 3, 2007 International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame, 300 Gulfstream Way, Dania Beach, FL
December 4, 2007 South Dade Regional Library, 10750 SW 211th St, Miami, FL
December 13, 2007* Key Largo Holiday Inn, 99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL
*Live web cast beginning at 7:00 p.m. Go to the park website: www.nps.gov/ever for the homepage link. From 12/17/07 through 1/25/08 a tape of the web cast can also be viewed from the homepage.
Public comment opportunities:
The public is encouraged to view the Draft Plan and submit comments through the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website: http://parkplanning.nps.gov, selecting "Everglades NP" from the drop down box, then "Flamingo CSP/EA", and "Open For Public Comment". The "Document List" link provides a list of S. Florida libraries that have paper copies for review.
Written comments should be mailed to: Everglades National Park, attn: Fred Herling - Flamingo CSP, 40001 State Road 9336, and Homestead, FL, 33034.
CDs will be available at the public workshops or may be requested by calling the park at 305-242-7700. If prompted by voice mail, press "2" at 1st prompt and "5" at 2nd prompt to leave mailing information. A limited number of paper copies of the Draft Plan are also available.
The comment period ends January 25, 2008.
For more information or questions, contact Fred Herling, Project Manager at 305-242-7704 or e-mail us.
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Did You Know?
Everglades National Park holds the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie in North America. Deer, apple snails, muskrats, and alligators are just some of the species wildlife that utilize this habitat for survival.