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Opinion
Longboat Key Wednesday, May 2, 2018 1 year ago

Rising seas, sea walls and perspective

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It's better to address 50-year-old sea walls now rather than later. 
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

Thanks in part to the local daily newspaper across the bay and its  seeming obsession with alleged sea levels rising, that topic made its way into the Longboat Key Town Commission’s goals and objectives discussion last week. 

Former Town Commissioner Lynn Larson, a resident of Country Club Shores, where most of the homes line a network of 19 canals, urged the town to review its codes regulating the height of sea walls.

Larson noted how some South Florida shoreline communities have begun experiencing declining property values because of their low-lying waterfront exposure. She noted many of the sea walls on Longboat are a half-century old and it would be prudent to review the codes to give property owners the ability to prepare for sea-level rise.

But at the end of the goals session, Longboat Key resident, Dr. Jim Whitman, also addressed the commission on sea levels rising.

He asked if the commissioners knew how much sea levels are rising each year — [about] “2 millimeters,” he said. In 50 years, he noted, that would be about 5 inches.

Whitman also asked commissioners if they knew whether the rate of rising sea levels was increasing. His answer: “There has not been a statistically significant increase since the 1900s.”

When Mayor George Spoll cautioned audience members about answering Whitman’s questions, Whitman apologized, saying: “I just want to put things in perspective.”

Thank you, Dr. Whitman. 

Nevertheless, Larson was correct to put the matter on the Town Commission’s radar. Better to begin addressing those 50-year-old sea walls now than when it’s too late. 

Dare we suggest a citizens task force — and a taxpayer-financed junket to the Netherlands?   

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