TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: Jomary Syevens-Burgos (Mejías Syevens, LLC)
Tibes Town House Blq. 3, Apt. 17
Ponce, Puerto Rico 00730
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Caribbean Sea (El Tuque Beach). The project site is located within the premises of El Tuque Recreational and Tourist Complex at State Road PR-2, Km 220.2, Punta Cucharas Sector, Canas Ward, Municipality of Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Ponce, take State Road PR-2 (West) until Km 220.2. Take exit 220 (to your right); then, turn left and continue driving until you reach the entrance to El Tuque Recreational and Tourist Complex.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 17.97360°
Basic: Aquatic recreation
Overall: Establish an inflatable water park to expand the aquatic recreational activities and attractions available for tourists and locals at El Tuque Recreational and Tourist Complex.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: El Tuque Beach lies on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. It is sited immediately west of the Punta Cucharas Natural Reserve and within the limits of El Tuque Recreational and Tourist Complex. Said complex includes a hotel, an aquatic/splash water park (currently abandoned), a speedway (with drag-racing track and circuit track), and the El Tuque beach area, among other attractions. The coastal waters in the area are used for boating and other recreational activities, such as swimming and kayaking. The proposed project site is located approximately 15 feet (ft) from the shoreline of El Tuque Beach, on the northwest margin of the complex facilities.
The NOAA’s Biogeography Program Benthic Habitat Maps depict benthic habitats in the vicinity of the proposed project site as dominated by dense seagrass beds (continuous/70-90% cover). However, the results of a benthic survey recently conducted for the proposed project area indicate that the footprint of the proposed inflatable water park would be entirely located over sandy sea bottom devoid of seagrass, macroalgae or coral colonization. The results of the benthic survey also indicate that the closest sparse seagrass bed areas are located more than 40 ft offshore from the seaward end of the proposed project footprint. No federally protected corals or hardbottom areas were observed in the immediate vicinity of the project site.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to install a floating, recreational water park (El Tuque Water Park) consisting of several interconnected inflatable structures (including trampoline, slides, climbing wall, walkways, obstacles, and others). The water park would be installed 15 ft off the shoreline and would occupy a total water surface area of approximately 65 ft long x 65 ft wide, equivalent to 0.097 acres (4,225 square feet). However, the actual recreational floating structures of the park (not including the open spaces) would cover a combined water surface area of approximately 0.034 acres (1,473 square feet). Water depths along the proposed water park’s footprint range from 5 to 15 ft. The proposed floating structures would be affixed to the marine bottom using 28 anchoring lines made of elastic rope. The anchoring lines would connect to 28 helix round shaft anchors, which would be installed in sandy sea bottom. The anchors would be installed manually by divers. Once the anchors are in place, the inflated floating structures would be pulled into the water by divers (no vessels would be required) and affixed to the anchors. The proposed floating structures would remain in place all year round, unless inclement weather and/or rough sea conditions require their temporary removal. Only the anchoring lines and the inflatable structures would be removed as needed. The anchors would stay in place permanently.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has evaluated the undertaking for effects to historic properties as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and has followed the guidelines of 33 CFR Part 325, Appendix C. Due to nature and limited scope of the proposed activity, there is little likelihood of impact upon a historic property within the permit area. Therefore, the Corps has determined that the project would have no potential to cause effects to historic properties.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the federally protected Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and Green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles; the federally protected Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) and Giant manta ray Manta birostris); and the federally protected Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus), or their habitat. Via separate letter the Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Services concurrence with these determinations, as appropriate, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. The proposed project would impact approximately 0.097 acres of marine bottom, which may be utilized by various life stages of federally managed species within the U.S. Caribbean. Based on the available information, the Corps initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Caribbean Sea. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service, Habitat Conservation Division.
SECTION 408: The applicant will not require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would not alter, occupy, or use a Corps Civil Works project.
NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program. The jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Antilles-Miami Permits Section, Fund. Ángel Ramos Annex Bldg., Suite 202, 383 F.D. Roosevelt Ave., San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918, within 30 days from the date of this notice.
The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Mrs. Deborah J. Cedeño-Maldonado, in writing at the Antilles-Miami Permits Section, Fund. Ángel Ramos Annex Bldg., Suite 202, 383 F.D. Roosevelt Ave., San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918; by electronic mail at Deborah.J.Cedeno-Maldonado@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (787) 289-7036.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area.
EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other Interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board.
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.