By Joe Capozzi
As Briny Breezes continues looking for the big dollars needed to repair or replace its seawall along the Intracoastal Waterway, the town may soon take a preliminary step to move the project along.
At a workshop July 22, the Town Council directed the town manager to include some money in the 2021-22 budget for a survey of underground utilities — a move that not only would provide a useful tool for general needs, but also could help streamline efforts to fix the seawalls.
“I think it’s time to start moving forward on the seawall,’’ Manager William Thrasher told the council. “If we believe in the seawall project, we’re going to have to start doing our limited amount of work towards that end and it should probably start sooner than later.’’
Incorporated east of Boynton Beach in 1963, Briny Breezes is a co-op consisting of 488 mobile homes on 43 acres between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.
It is extremely vulnerable to hurricanes, storms and king tides. The western part of the town, where many seawalls are low, already sees frequent tidal flooding.
Town officials are working with state Rep. Mike Caruso and state Sen. Lori Berman on securing state money and grants for the project, which will cost millions.
Completing a survey of underground utilities, which could cost up to $85,000, “is one of the next-step requirements for any, in my opinion, grant applications,’’ Thrasher told the council.
“It’s basic information for our town. It would be useful whether or not the seawall project proceeds, because it would allow us to look at a stormwater master plan,’’ which could cost $60,000, he said.
One option Briny will consider is the Resilient Florida program, which provides grants created from new legislation aimed at helping Florida communities prepare for the potential impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, intensified storms and flooding. The deadline for grant applications is Sept. 1.
But the seawall isn’t the only important piece of Briny Breezes infrastructure in need of repair.
“The big project we are working on right now is relocating our water mains because they are right next to the seawall and before we can do work on the seawalls we’ve got to move those water mains away,’’ council President Sue Thaler said after the July 22 meeting.
Thrasher said he would massage his proposed $887,857 budget to free up money for the utilities survey.
Briny will again be capped at the statutory tax maximum of $10 per $1,000 of homeowners’ property value next year, as the tax rate has been since 2009.
Public hearings on the rate will be Sept. 7 and Sept. 23 at 5:01 p.m.
Despite its infrastructure issues, Briny Breezes saw a 10.4% jump in taxable valuation, one of the largest increases among Palm Beach County municipalities.
In other business, the council approved a $500 fee to American Legal Publishing to add the town’s code of ordinances online. It would be accessible at the company’s website.
“It’s not much money to bring us into the 21st century,’’ said Alderwoman Kathy Gross. “It would be more