Monday, April 25, 2022

Thoughts on Earth Day, April, and accomplishments made in terms of sustainability

We are entering the last week of April - home of Earth Day (April 22 annually). I spent Saturday out in our Everglades, Shark Valley specifically, to enjoy a family bike ride and view the natural flora and fauna. Take note - I am proud that many of the same species of plants and all the animals can be found within the municipal boarders of Palmetto Bay. 

I have enjoyed serving as Mayor of the Village of Palmetto Bay. Although eager to what the future will bring, I admit that I look forward to the freedom to participate as an engaged resident as I did from 2011 - 2014. It is always good to regain perspective off the council dais. What I observed from 2010 – 2014 brought me back. I am even more disturbed by some of the things I see going on today.

Each and every administration is held accountable for decisions made. Others now take on the responsibility of public office and will be judged by their own promises made and kept, their own accomplishments reached and their own handling of issues as they arise.

I remain proud of our accomplishments, and while not everyone may have agreed, we certainly moved our village forward from humble beginnings.

I'd like to think that I have had some input, some impact, on sustainability here in South Florida. In review, I am proud of my record for sustainability here in Palmetto Bay. I have worked hard to make Palmetto Bay a green city and make it greener every day.  Listed below is a partial list;  some of my favorite accomplishments brought to Palmetto Bay. 

Accomplishments we share: 

I still enjoy the reward for teamwork - July 20, 2018, Palmetto Bay is certified by the FGBC as a Green City

As Mayor (2002-2010, 2014-2018), I refused to meet with developers in private. I am the only member of the Palmetto Bay council to date, who can say this.  I have held meetings in public where interested members of the public can attend, listen and actually participate. Sad that that
doesn't continue. In fact, I have heard that a current member of the village council recused himself as he met with an applicant.

I am also proud of working with the original Village Council to renovate existing parks and buying new parkland, as well as bringing diverse park amenities including a dog park, softball complex, beach volleyball courts, and a skate park. I have seen to it that we include and protect our environment sensitive areas such as the 5 acre Pineland in Coral Reef Park. I have also worked with the team to purchase and preserve a bay front park (Thalatta Estate). Activities include Earth Week (to raise environmental awareness) and age friendly programming and promoting bicycling within the village. I participated annually with the various bike to work, alternative transportation events.

I created “Shade Palmetto Bay” – our annual tree / plant give away (native of course).  This year, I put my money where my mouth is and personally donated 130 seedling pines for the giveaway.

I worked for recognition of our green spaces as Florida-Friendly Landscapes. Note that in our Village of Parks, Coral Reef, Palmetto Bay and Perrine Wayside Dog Park were recognized on June 18, 2018. 

I signed on to the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and joined Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy – not just signing, but following up on and keeping the commitments made.

I was the prime sponsor in bringing Palmetto Bay in as a participating municipality with the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact when it was formalized back in 2009/2010. 

I was the first of our local officials to advocate for the completion of CERP/BBCW in our region. See Palmetto Bay Resolution:  2007-044

I sponsored (with a single co-sponsor) Reso 2009-018 Urging the US Congress and Florida Legislature to fully fund Biscayne Bay Wetlands projects

Reso2007-073 – in support of the SFWMD request for congressional appropriation of funds necessary to bring the Herbert Hoover Dike into compliance with current levee protection safety standards

Reso2016-036 Urging the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the SFWMD to expedite Phase II of the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project.

Under my leadership, Palmetto Bay led the way in green initiatives, building the first countywide LEED-certified park building at Coral Reef Park, followed by the very first statewide Platinum LEED-certified Village Hall! 

Palmetto Bay Charter member PACE – I served on the district board

Preserving green space, creation of new green space/parks as well as updating existing green space and parks.  Adding to Palmetto Bay Park where we took developable land and added it to the Park, adding 17 acres to the original 5 acre neighborhood park. Buying and preserving Thalatta Estate.

Championed the creation of a Sustainable Community Plan (SCP). 

I sponsored resolutions preserving the following acreage: 

Ludovici Park, working with our Miami-Dade County Environmental Crimes to take ownership of land which had previously suffered mangrove destruction, restoring those mangroves and placing that land in the public domain, eventually becoming Ludovici Park – where a library now stands and the restored mangrove area rests, off the private ownership and in protective hands.

Land that the County was about to surplused to developers into public ownership -  soon to be known as The Woods along 168th street.

I was the sponsor of Palmetto Bay Resolution 2010-32, Opposing the FPL application relating to Turkey Point Units 6 & &, power lines, opposing the siting transmission lines down US1 (the subsequent administration pulled out of this effort, leaving Pinecrest and South Miami to win this effort without Palmetto Bay’s collaboration).

Notable resolutions are numerous, but some of my favorites that I sponsored include:

2005-043, calling upon the Board of County Commissioners to oppose any extension to the Urban Development Boundary (“Hold The Line”)

2007-049 Relating to protecting the land considered to be a wildlife sanctuary at SW 168th Street and 88th.

2008-078  Requesting Miami-Dade to authorize the use of low emission vehicles on County Owned Residential streets located within Palmetto Bay and the County as such low emission vehicles would assist with greening communities by lowering gas emissions and curtail use of gas, ensure slower speeds and thus protect residents, pedestrians and general public.

2016-68, opposing the DEP's weakening of restrictions that would allow an increase in the release of toxic chemicals into Florida’s Waters.

Obtaining the Tree City USA Designation in my second term.

I am including the following blog posts I have written on these and other environmental topics.

We need to protect and prepare for our future, whether it is protecting our native Pine Rocklands, Mangroves, or Everglades.  We need to grow smart or not at all.  And don’t leave out transportation.  Transportation is another Number One issue (yes - there are more than a single critical issue facing South Florida) as growing gridlock is rapidly eroding our quality of life – but more on that in a future post.

I remain proud of my accomplishments to date as well as my ongoing commitment to continue the vision and work to further and exceed these past accomplishments, including:

Palmetto Bay seeks to become a model community for energy savings and environmental conservation. The Municipal Center is a testament to this goal. 

For more information, please feel free to review the following Official Palmetto Bay webpages:

And a few of my past blog posts, including:

Also see the article posted online through the Southeast Florida Regional Compact (an organization I have sponsored participating with):  Village Hall LEED Platinum Certified Facility

Obtaining certification of the first Green Certified municipal building in Miami-Dade County (our Parks building at Coral Reef Park).

Solar power initiatives.  Co-sponsoring Solar Co-Ops

Prime sponsor of permit fee waiver initiatives for Solar Panel initiative.

Championing the efforts to purchase and preserve Thalatta Estate - working with the willing seller to buy the property through the Trust for Public Lands and Florida Communities Trust to bring this property into public ownership for all to enjoy.

Went electronic, eliminating paper - for e-newsletters - first created e-currents and now "Your Village At Work."

Tree City USA Designation

I have also actively worked to support the efforts of community groups such as LivableCutler at the county and state level to halt over development. These efforts led to public acquisition of 130 acres earmarked for CERP/BBCW. My entire family have been part of the volunteer effort to restore the acquired coastal wetlands.

Finally – I established a Palmetto Bay “Environmentalist of the Year” Award – to recognize and encourage environmental action.

Thank you fellow residents of Palmetto Bay!

Eugene Flinn

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