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 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) and Sections 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
City of West Palm Beach
Attn.: James Keith
401 Clematis Street
West Palm Beach, Florida 33402
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Lake Worth Lagoon. The project site is located at 2400 North Flagler Drive, Section 10, Township 43 South, Range 43 East, in West Palm Beach, within Palm Beach County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is to improve water access, shoreline stabilization, recreation, and public use for an existing park.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to improve water access, shoreline stabilization, recreation, and public use at the existing Currie Park in Palm Beach County, Florida.
PERMITTING HISTORY: The Corps has issued the following permits associated with this site:
• On May 8, 2015, a Standard Permit was issued to create a 0.40 acre living shoreline consisting of mangrove and spartina wetland island;
• On February 22, 2016, a Permit Modification was issued to create nine intermittent wetland planters within the Lake Worth Lagoon adjacent to Currie Park by (1) placing approximately 1,300 linear feet of riprap, including wetland planter vegetation adjacent to the existing seawall; (2) placing 3,040 cubic yards of rock and 799 cubic yards of fill material in order to create 21,632 square feet of aquatic habitat extending between 6-feet and 25-feet waterward of the mean high water line; and (3) planting red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) and salt marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora).
• On August 31, 2016 a Standard Permit was issued for (1) the construction of two public staging docks adjacent to the Currie Park public boat ramps; (2) dredging in three areas to improve navigational access to the existing Maritime Museum basin, existing public boat ramps, and proposed public staging docks; (3) the installation of four slip boundary piles to limit vessel access near the existing bulkhead; and (4) the installation of fifteen navigational markers to increase the navigational safety of vessels travelling between the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and Currie Park.
• On March 23, 2019, a Permit Modification was issued for the addition of a 225-square foot dock and 30,000 lb boat lift, for emergency personnel use, to the northern docking structure, and would not extend the permit expiration.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project site is located adjacent to Currie Park within the Lake Worth Lagoon, which are tidal waters assessable to fish and aquatic wildlife species as well as federally listed species such as manatees, sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and giant manta rays.
The parcel contains approximately 13.6 acres of public land and consists of approximately 2,400 linear feet (lf) of bulkheaded shoreline fronting the west side of the northern segment of the Lake Worth Lagoon, adjacent to the ICW, approximately 2.5 miles south of the Lake Worth Inlet. There is a boat ramp facility at the north end of the parcel, consisting of four finger docks and two public staging docks. A T-shaped fishing pier is located just south, towards the center of the Project site. Approximately 368 feet (ft.) south of the T-shaped fishing pier, the
shoreline cuts inland approximately 110 ft. and continues south. A wooden finger pier and a large concrete dock are located at the southern extend of the project site, in front of the former Palm Beach Maritime Museum. Seven semi-circular red mangrove planters are located along the central and southern shorelines. The mangrove planters were installed by PBC Department of Environmental Resources Management in early 2017.
Benthic resources survey were conducted on August 2 – August 5, 2021, and on September 17, 2021. Three seagrass species (Halodule wrightii, Halophila decipiens, and Halophila johnsonii) were observed in varying densities but mostly in very sparse (< 5%) and sparse (5-20%) densities. Seagrass was observed throughout the project site, and H. decipiens was the dominant species. Most of the seagrass was observed in the northern half of the project site with reduced coverage and isolated sparse patches in the southern half.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to improve the existing city park. The specific, proposed activities include:
• Demolish 15,135 square feet (sf) of overwater structure (docks/piers);;
• Remove 1,210.3 linear feet (lf) of bulkhead;
• Relocate 4,355 sf of living shoreline and 5,095 sf (377 cubic yards [cy]) of
• Excavate 28,836.5 sf of uplands to create a semi-circular stepped down
area and to accommodate the new rock revetment along the shoreline.
• Raise existing boat ramp finger docks to +3.0 ft. with reference to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) within the same footprint (1,093 sf), with existing piles to remain;
• Install a 6-ft. by 3.5-ft manual crank kayak launch at the northernmost staging dock north of boat ramp;
• Install 11,751 SF (2,394 CY of clean fill) of mangrove planter/living shoreline along 411 lf. This total amount includes the altered/relocated existing mangrove planter/ living shoreline. Approximately 875 mangrove seedlings will be planted. Coastal grasses, like cordgrass (Spartina sp.) may also be planted in the more elevated portions of the mangrove planter/living shoreline areas;
• Install 18,450 sf (3,880 cy) of 2.25 ft. rock in diameter along 7,841 lf to serve as a breakwater for protection of the living shoreline;
• Install 235 cy of bedding stone under 18,450 sf of the breakwater and 254 cy of bedding stone and 22,940 sf of geotextile fabric under rock revetment;
• Install 22,940 sf (3,311 cy) of rock revetment along 1,210 lf at a 1.5(H):1(V) slope (top elevation + 6.5’ NAVD88);
• Install 1,414 sf (157 cy) of oyster reef, which will consist of either mesh bags or metal gabion baskets filled with oysters. Each unit of contained oyster shell will be attached to one another, and the entire reef will be secured to the substrate at the corners with metal rebar;
• Remove 143.5 lf of concrete bulkhead and replace with a steel sheet pile wall and a new 34-inch concrete cap within the same footprint;
• Install 41,260 sf of overwater fishing/pedestrian access piers consisting of eight (8) 12-inch diameter timber piles and 518 14-inch concrete piles. Overwater piers/boardwalks will be constructed using grated decking to allow for 43% light penetration and raised 6.0 ft. above MHW over seagrass;
• Install 1.5-ft. by 4-ft. limestone block “social steps” within the newly created semicircular area from uplands
• Install an ADA accessible 416 sf floating kayak launch with a 50-ft by 6-ft gangway (50 sf) at the south end of project site;
• Excavate existing uplands and discharge 1,011 cy of clean sand material to construct a 6,565 sf elevated pocket beach;
• Install 125 lf of glass flood wall on top of existing bulkhead;
• Install 139.2 lf of knee wall on top of existing bulkhead north of the boat ramp and 224.1 lf of knee wall for overwater structures.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:
1. Prior to construction activities, including demolition of the docks, turbidity control devices will be installed in a manner to contain disturbed sediments within the limits of construction of the project;
2. All construction staging will be located in an upland location. No stock piling of debris or equipment will occur in wetlands or other surface waters; and
3. Standard manatee conditions for in-water work and sea turtle and smalltooth sawfish construction conditions will be implemented during all in-water project construction activities in accordance with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife construction conditions.
4. Use of grated decking for new docking structures to minimize overwater shading impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Seagrasses: Approximately 320.9 sf of mainly very sparse to sparse seagrass will be directly impacted by the pier/boardwalk structures. All rock revetment and living shoreline components are located in areas barren of seagrass with the exception of a 525.2 sf area of sparse H. wrightii. The total area of seagrass directly impacted is approximately 846 sf. This is considered a “de minimis” impact and the overall project will provide a greater ecological benefit than what is currently existing. Therefore, no seagrass mitigation is proposed.
Mangroves: Seven semi-circular red mangrove planters are located along the central and southern shorelines. The mangrove planters were installed by Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management in early 2017. Three of seven mangrove planters will remain, while four of the mangrove planters will be reconfigured to fit into the proposed shoreline design. Therefore, no mangrove mitigation is proposed.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is evaluating the undertaking for effects to historic properties as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This public notice serves to inform the public of the proposed undertaking and invites comments including those from local, State, and Federal government Agencies with respect to historic resources. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts may be subject to additional coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and other interested parties.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas), and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles, Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), the Giant Manta Ray (Mobula birostris) and the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
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 proposal would impact approximately one (1) acre of submerged substrate that contains submerged aquatic vegetation, utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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.
NAVIGATION: The proposed project would occur outside the setback of a federal navigation channel.
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 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.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Palm Beach Gardens Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 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, Christian Karvounis, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Christian.G.Karvounis@usace.army.mil or, by telephone at (561) 472-3508.
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. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.
The US 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 Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan.
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.