By Dan Moffett
Briny Breezes is hoping there’s strength in numbers of neighbors when it comes to slowing down boaters in the Intracoastal Waterway.
The Town Council voted unanimously on April 23 to adopt a resolution that calls on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to create an “idle speed, no-wake” zone adjacent to the Briny marina.
The resolution is modeled after one passed by Delray Beach in February. And council members are hoping to persuade Boynton Beach, Ocean Ridge and Gulf Stream to adopt similar measures.
Mayor Gene Adams said a low-speed zone has become increasingly necessary because of rising water levels, flooding and the damage inconsiderate boaters leave behind them.
“It really tears up our sea wall as well as our marina area,” Adams said. “So, otherwise Briny is going to have to spend more money to repair things than we would normally.”
The proposed zone would extend about a half-mile south from Woolbright Road, past the marina to Briny’s southern border.
Getting FWC officials to make the change won’t be easy, said Town Attorney Keith Davis, who drafted the resolution.
“It’s not going to be a walk in the park,” he said. “It’s a process. There’s always push-back from the recreational boating community.”
Davis said that years ago, he persuaded the FWC to create a low-speed zone for a municipality in northern Palm Beach County. It took about a year of persistence. Davis said it might be easier to get the FWC to approve a slow-speed zone, rather than a full no-wake zone. “That’s less of an ask,” he said.
But the strongest parts of Briny’s case to the state are the marina and the need to ensure safe operations for the boat traffic it draws.
“The one thing we have in our advantage is that we have adjacent marina facilities,” Davis said. “That may be a plus.”
Adams agreed: “The marina is our best bet as a leveraging tool.”
Several previous petition drives calling for a no-wake zone in Briny fizzled without gaining any real traction. State officials are generally reluctant to change the status quo without compelling evidence or significant public pressure.
The Delray Beach City Commission’s resolution asked the FWC to create a no-wake zone between Atlantic Avenue and George Bush Boulevard. The measure said Intracoastal property owners were suffering “degradation of their sea walls and landscaping” because of boaters’ excessive speed. State officials have not yet formally considered the city’s request.
Briny Breezes Council President Sue Thaler told Town Manager William Thrasher to reach out to neighboring communities and enlist their backing for the town’s resolution and lower speeds.
“The more support, the better,” Thaler said. “Hopefully, this will go somewhere.”