By Dan Moffett
Gulf Stream should make upgrades and repairs today to prepare for rising seas that will strain the town’s stormwater infrastructure in years to come.
That’s the conclusion of West Palm Beach-based engineering consultants from Baxter & Woodman, who presented a King Tide Resiliency Assessment report to the Town Commission on Dec. 11.
The report examined recent problems during king tides, which included a breach of a sea wall along the Intracoastal Waterway and several low-lying areas of street flooding.
The consultants made these recommendations for action to the commission:
• Four existing duck bill-style drainage valves along the Intracoastal north of Golfview Drive should be replaced with more advanced inline check valves. Three additional inline valves should be installed. The cost of each valve is estimated to range from $5,000 to $10,000.
• The town should work with the property owner at 3550 Polo Drive to regrade a side lot that is vulnerable to breach.
• The west ends of Banyan Road and Palm Way need to be regraded to prevent flooding.
• The town should advise owners of The Little Club golf course that its lakes are vulnerable to flooding and could cause problems with the town’s roads and drainage system.
The report relied on a South Florida Water Management District study that found the average high tide has risen approximately 6 inches since 1985, and projections that expect that rate to more than double over the next 50 years.
Commissioner Paul Lyons suggested that responding to the engineering report might require changes to the town’s 10-year, $10 million capital improvement plan for streets and water pipes.
Town Manager Greg Dunham agreed. “The rise of sea levels is not contemplated in the CIP,” he said. “We definitely have roads with dips in them and water just stands there.”
In other business, the commission unanimously approved a raise of about $15,000 for Dunham, bringing his annual salary to $135,000.
Mayor Scott Morgan said the increase was based on a survey of town manager salaries in nearby coastal communities. Morgan said the Ocean Ridge manager — with salary, insurance, car allowance and other benefits — has a $192,000 package. Giving Dunham the salary boost puts him near that, the mayor said, and gets Gulf Stream to “a competitive level.”
Dunham, who came to Gulf Stream from Kenly, North Carolina, nearly four years ago, said he was “humbled by the gesture.” Commissioners praised his handling of public work projects that are ongoing.
“He’s here on weekends, he’s here at nights, but more than that, he is creative, thoughtful and has foresight,” Morgan said. “He has a rapport with our residents. We’re blessed to have him as town manager.”
The raise edges Dunham past Police Chief Edward Allen, whose pay and benefits total $186,534, but he is still behind longtime Town Clerk Rita Taylor, whose compensation package is $196,216.