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Column: Build That Wall!

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We hear the chanting. We hear the rhetoric. We are beginning to realize the need and the importance. We are beginning to understand that to do nothing is no longer an option. The problem is on the rise. The invaders are causing havoc and destruction. The chanting is growing louder and louder, Build the Wall, Build the Wall. 

No, I am not at a Trump rally along the Southeast border, I am sitting right here in Wilton Manors and wondering how our island paradise will deal with the growing problem of sea walls that surround our Island City. Area sea walls are under attack and without any programs at the county and state level, we will see the deterioration continue and will reach a crisis level in the near future.  The need to build walls right here in Wilton Manors should be a major concern to all our residents. 

The problem has two main culprits, rising water levels and iguanas. Reports have been hitting the press about regional concerns due to climate change, with the need to raise our area sea walls by at least a foot in height. That’s one problem dealing with the tops of the walls, the other is devastating the bottoms. Iguanas, love them or hate them, are destroying sea walls throughout our area and their growing presence as an invasive species needs to be dealt with on a regional and state level. 

Here in our Island City, over 90 percent of the sea walls that surround the city are on private property and are the responsibility of the property owner. Unfortunately many property owners here in Wilton Manors and throughout the region lack the ability to deal with the need to raise the wall, to rebuild the walls from the destruction caused by iguanas, or to replace aging infrastructure. 

Senior citizens, residents on fixed incomes, those who never recovered from the financial collapse, and those left behind earning low wages in our two tiered national economy are just getting by as it is. My neighbors across the way, both senior citizens on a fixed income have approached me on numerous occasions asking if I knew of any assistance with the iguana problems they are dealing with. 

They know that the iguanas are destroying the sea wall on their property, along with their neighbors up and down the waterway. The only answer they get from their inquiries to government agencies is that they could hire a trapper for the iguanas, but make sure you deal with them humanly, and that the sea wall is the property owner’s responsibility. Not much help when you are dealing with just getting by each month, paying rising utility bills, insurance bills and so many other costs. 

Last year our Assistant City Manager, along with our Utilities Director, successfully worked with State Senators and State Representatives to get funding for a sidewalk program in our neighborhoods. Unfortunately the program did not survive the veto power of our governor’s office. Perhaps this year our city staff and others should start to lobby our representatives in the upcoming legislative session to allocate funding that will assist property owners in dealing with these two growing problems. 

To deal with flooding issues and other related problems from rising sea levels, many communities are requesting that sea walls be raised up to an additional 12 inches. The cost of adding a cap on top of the existing seawall is about $10,000. However many seawalls due to age and deterioration will not be able to handle the cap and would have to be replaced all together at a much higher cost. Add to that the burden of the growing iguana menace, and things are not looking good for our residents along the waterways that define our island paradise. 

Not much help is on the horizon concerning the iguana population either. For many years most county and state officials looked at the iguanas as a pest in our gardens. Unfortunately these pests are destroying our seawalls at an alarming rate along with doing great harm to local plant life and more. 

The advice coming out of the state mainly deals with living with the growing menace and how to minimize the damage to your property. Nothing is being done to minimize the growing population as with other invasive species such as the python snake in the Everglades. With warmer winters and their ability to lay up to 70 eggs, this pest in our garden has become a major environmental problem that our state officials need to have a more aggressive action plan to deal with. 

Residents of our island city can call on their state representatives and request action be taken. We can also hope for a week long cold spell in the coming months.  A few days of near freezing weather will do wonders for decreasing the iguana menace, and would temporarily trick us into thinking that global warming is just a hoax as the tweets from our President have stated. 

Back in the real world, residents of our Island City need to deal with the problems caused by climate change, but it cannot be done solely on the backs of individual property owners. We must demand regional and state-wide solutions to these growing problems and by doing so keep life just better here. 

 


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