Monday, October 11, 2010

October 13: Principal Cause Of Miami Beach Flooding Is Overdevelopment

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Developer Russell Galbut, whose family has a long and storied history in Miami Beach, is interested in building a shopping and retail center along Alton Road that would incorporate the long-shuttered South Shore Hospital and could help the area.

He may have to build it on stilts.

It hasn't been raining most of the last week, but parts of Alton Road and other areas of South Beach have experienced flooding.

High tides have been getting much of the public blame. Global warming certainly deserves a share of the blame.

But 30-plus years of overdevelopment in South Beach without the infrastructure to match should get most of the blame - along with the many elected officials who approved all that development.

Up through the 1980s, one could enter Alton Road from MacArthur Causeway and not experience any flooding. This writer should know; I went to school in the city for eight years.

Many current Beach residents who came from other parts of the country and the world apparently haven't been here long enough to remember a flood-free history. But they do say that it's never been this bad. And Hurricane Paula now lurks in the western Caribbean Sea, with heaven knows what effects in store for South Florida.

Right now, relief in terms of an updated water and sewer system seems to be roughly a year and a half away. That's not soon enough.

South Florida has been starting to recover the tourists lost when the economy collapsed. But the possibility of having one of the region's crown jewels under water more often isn't going to help that recovery - and will badly tarnish that crown jewel.

This is an emergency. City leaders, as well as Miami-Dade County and Florida environmental management workers, need to figure out a solution now. Stopping new developments in the area until the infrastructure catches up might be a necessary start.

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