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Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
Everglades National Park Superintendent Dan B. Kimball is pleased to announce the release of the Preferred Alternative (Alternative D) for the Draft Flamingo Commercial Services Plan for a final 30-day review period. “I have heard firsthand from many of you what a special place Flamingo is and how much you care about this place. Our challenge is to establish Flamingo, once again, as the ‘gateway’ to Florida Bay, the park’s backcountry and the Wilderness Waterway. We have worked closely with many of you to develop the plan and now we want to make sure the Preferred Alternative is the best vision for moving forward.”
The initial public comment period for the Draft Plan ended on January 25, 2008. Based on the public comments received and additional analysis by the planning team, a Preferred Alternative was developed that largely includes elements from the Draft Plan’s Alternatives B and C.
This is notification that the Preferred Alternative is now available for comment for the next 30 days. The comment period will end on Thursday, May 15, 2008. There are two documents available for comment: the full description of the Preferred Alternative, its costs and impacts; and the Financial Analysis which presents the business opportunity available for a potential concessioner and a scenario for phasing the implementation effort. The public is encouraged to view 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”. A link to the site is also on the park’s website homepage: www.nps.gov/ever. Written comments should be mailed to: Everglades National Park, attn: Fred Herling - Flamingo CSP, 40001 State Road 9336, and Homestead, FL, 33034. A paper copy of the Preferred Alternative and Financial Analysis 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.
Key Features of the Preferred Alternative
Like Alternative C, the Preferred Alternative would provide an enhanced mix of commercial services for land- and water-based education and recreation activities, with an emphasis on eco-friendly concepts and sustainable design features that take into account Flamingo’s location in a high hazard flood zone. The mix of accommodations reflects these critical issues and the market for a more eco-friendly destination (a single, elevated lodge; elevated cottages; houseboats; eco-tents; RV campground with electric hookups; backcountry chickees in Florida Bay). The numbers and sizes of these facilities would reflect what is necessary for profitability by a concessioner. Like Alternative B, the Preferred Alternative includes the RV campground remaining at T Loop with electrical hookups added, provides for an environmentally-friendly swimming pool, and continues access to Eco Pond.
Site design and the redevelopment will allow the area to function more efficiently for visitors, the concessioner and the park, while facilitating pedestrian and bicycle access and circulation throughout the Flamingo area with new trails and pathways. During peak season a Flamingo circulator shuttle would transport visitors to key destinations and a “Yellow Bike” system would provide overnight guests with enhanced access to the marina, lodging and other visitor services, while reducing the frequency of private vehicle use. With redevelopment focused on a reduced building footprint, approximately 50 acres no longer needed for facilities would be restored to their natural conditions. Flamingo will become an educational venue for a range of topics like Everglades restoration and Flamingo’s storied natural and cultural history. The redeveloped Flamingo will also provide real learning opportunities regarding the challenges ahead for issues like climate change, sea level rise and sustainable development.
Following the 30-day comment period, final changes will be made to the Preferred Alternative before Superintendent Kimball forwards an approval recommendation to the NPS Southeast Regional Director on the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Once the FONSI is signed, the CSP will be finalized and implementation can begin. At the same time, the Preferred Alternative will be integrated into each of the General Management Plan (GMP) preliminary alternatives and carried forward in that process. The public will be kept current on CSP implementation efforts and public involvement opportunities through future press releases, mailings and updates on the park’s website.
General Management Plan
Everyone interested in the rebuilding of Flamingo is also interested in the GMP. Several months ago Superintendent Kimball sent out a postcard indicating that the park anticipated the revised preliminary alternatives for the park’s marine areas being released in early 2008 through a newsletter and full round of public meetings. As Kimball has said frequently, “we know how important it is to use the vast local knowledge that rests with so many park supporters and what’s most important is to make sure we get the new alternatives right.” As a result park managers ask your patience for a few months longer as the planning team completes critically important work on the marine areas analysis and finishes revising the alternatives that respond to the extensive comments we received last year. Once the revision is complete, a preliminary alternatives newsletter focused just on the park’s marine areas will be distributed, with a new set of public meetings announced, and ample time for public comment. All the details will be announced through a press release, newsletter mailing, and posting on the NPS planning website (http://parkplanning.nps.gov) and the park’s website (http://www.nps.gov/ever).
For more information or questions on either the Flamingo CSP or Everglades National Park GMP, contact Fred Herling, Project Manager at 305-242-7704 or e-mail us.