Lake Worth Inlet dredging controversy

Dozens turned out for a meeting Tuesday to discuss dredging the Lake Worth Inlet to get larger ships into the Port of Palm Beach.

Representatives from the port say the dredging project will bring money into the economy and jobs.

"Right now we have had instances where ships have been turned away and if the ship does not work the ship does not make money so we see this as an opportunity for job creation," Port Executive Director Manuel Almira said.

The project would deepen the port from 34 feet to 39 feet.

The Army Corps has somewhat signed off the on the project, but it has not been funded.

Environmentalists say it will hurt marine life and coral.

"If this project takes place you are not going to be able to go snorkeling or diving. It is not even going to be worth getting in the water at that bridge for years," diver David Sanchez said.

Sanchez has a Facebook page called "Blue Heron Bridge Photography" and went to the meeting Tuesday to speak against the project.

"We all know this is a government program and it is not a two year project like they are advocating and trying to promote. This will go on for years and destroy marine life," Sanchez said.

Many from the town of Palm Beach also united and attended the meeting to speak out against the project.

They are planning to sue the Army Corps to stop the project.

"In the end it is up to the local resources which may include wealth within the island. I think we have 34 billionaires on Palm Beach," Dr. Sanford Kuvin said.

Kuvin lives on the northeast corner of the island that borders the beach and the inlet.

"I am absolutely committed to stop this because this is a legacy not only for our family, children, grandchildren, but everyone who lives on this island," Dr. Kuvin said.

Kuvin says he is most concerned about a rise in the storm surge and the environmental impacts to the island.

"This town is mad as hell. Palm Beach is a rich island and it is known to be such internationally. It became a rich island because people have the privilege of living here in safety and comfort and not fearing environmental damage to their own property. All of that will change," Dr. Kuvin said.

The port director says he is determined to see the port move forward.

"If a port does not progress it has to go backwards and that is not going to happen in my administration," Almira said.

Congresswoman Lois Frankel was at the meeting Tuesday, but said she has not made up her mind on the project.

"I am just trying to be the peacemaker," Frankel said.

The legal battle could play out in the courts for years.


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