Almost two years after Hurricane Irma battered the Dinner Key Marina in Miami, some badly needed fixes are still needed. Damaged slips and splintered docks remained closed, and electrical repairs are still undone.
Boaters have complained of the delayed rehabilitation, which has been stalled by slow-moving talks and mountains of paperwork with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
City administrators are still discussing the matter with FEMA to secure reimbursement for repairs and upgrades that will protect the marina in future storms. In the meantime, commissioners on Thursday moved to pursue a $1.5 million grant from the state to aid repair efforts. The commission unanimously voted to authorize City Manager Emilio Gonzalez to pursue the grant. The city recently selected a contractor for the repairs.
Dinner Key tenants hope the process speeds up. Prior to Irma, Charles Bradley said the marina was in reasonable shape, but not enough has been done since the hurricane to get it back to its former glory. About half of the slips on his dock, he said, are still damaged, some electrical pedestals remain broken and there are still tenants without dock boxes.
“A lot of slips further down the dock were damaged, and there are no boats in them because basically they’ve collapsed,” Bradley said.
In a statement, spokeswoman Stephanie Severino said the city hopes Thursday’s vote accelerates the conversation with FEMA to get money to not only repair the marina but to fortify it so it can survive future storms.
“We are looking forward to the start of the needed repairs to Dinner Key Marina,” said Severino. “The city of Miami and FEMA have worked together to not just repair the damages from Hurricane Irma but to strengthen the marina to better withstand future storms.”
On top of the lack of repairs, recent rate increases have also aggravated boaters who use the marina. Commissioners looking to boost revenue to the city spurred the rate hikes. Commissioners Joe Carollo and Manolo Reyes pushed to consider all rate increases at the same time the Miami Parking Authority proposed a citywide parking rate hike. Administrators set increased rates that took effect Jan. 1.
Bradley said he used to pay about $600 a month to dock his boat, but he now pays about $100 more since rates were raised in February. The sudden change in rates, plus the lack of repairs, have led Bradley to add his name to the waiting list at Miami-Dade County’s Matheson Hammock Marina.
“They’ve never had the problems that the city [marinas] had,” Bradley said. “They made the repairs in a timely basis, and they seem to have their act together. I’ve had enough.”