WASHINGTON - December 3 - This week, Everglades National Park is hosting public meetings to gather input from stakeholders on their Flamingo Commercial Services Plan. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today announced its support to develop a “New Flamingo,” consistent with the park’s Alternative C in the Flamingo Commercial Services Plan. The national parks group has also identified six basic principles that should further guide the redevelopment of Flamingo.
“The redevelopment of Flamingo will depend on many factors, including limited funding and high insurance costs,” said National Parks Conservation Association Regional Director John Adornato. “The new Flamingo should leave a reduced footprint, incorporate “green” architecture, and restore the park’s natural habitats.”
In 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Wilma devastated the area of Everglades National Park known as Flamingo. All existing structures, including a visitor’s center, lodge, restaurant, and cabins were severely damaged or destroyed. The only overnight accommodation in the park, Flamingo has long been a popular destination for anglers, boaters, birders, campers and paddlers.
Everglades National Park released its Flamingo Commercial Services Plan in mid-November to outline and discuss a range of alternatives to rebuild the area. The Park Service will hold three public meetings over the next couple of weeks to present information about the draft alternatives. The first will take place tonight at 7:00 p.m. in Dania Beach, Fla. All public comments must be received by Friday, January 25, 2008.
The National Parks Conservation Association supports Alternative C to build a “New Flamingo,” here are six basic principles that should guide its redevelopment:
- A reduced footprint: The new Flamingo should produce a considerably smaller footprint on the land than currently exists. The site planning process should focus on “walkable” development, increased services, and opportunities for visitor experience could be provided in a much smaller area.
- Restoration and protection of natural habitat: The redevelopment process must include elements of restoring natural habitat and protecting the habitats that could be impacted by visitors. There may also be opportunities for achieving some protection from storm surge by restoring mangrove habitats as a buffer between Florida Bay and the developed part of Flamingo.
- “Green” design and architecture: Everglades National Park should take advantage of the considerable thought, imagination, and progress currently being made in the area of green architecture. Structure design should maximize passive cooling and resistance to wind and storm surge and utilize recycled materials.
- A variety of visitor experiences: Flamingo is most famous for fishing, and fishing will likely always be a centerpiece of visitor services offered at Flamingo. The potential for a wider variety of experiences, however, including canoeing, birding, hiking, biking, and walking is tremendous. The old Flamingo offered all of these opportunities, however, the design of the place made them less than optimal. Other services, such as storytelling, campfires, and children’s activities could also enhance Flamingo’s appeal as a destination for families.
- Creating a “sense of place”: The new Flamingo should reflect the history and culture of the area and the region. Part of the mission of the National Park Service is to preserve cultural and historic resources. This mission has not been particularly emphasized at Everglades National Park in the past, but could be at Flamingo. Choices of architecture, landscape design, and services could capture a sense of “old Florida,” which would be unique in the south Dade region.
- Connect with Gateway Communities: Everglades National Park should explore opportunities to form connections between Flamingo and the surrounding gateway communities of Homestead and Florida City.
The National Parks Conservation Association recognizes that redeveloping Flamingo will be a costly endeavor, though a cost estimate is not included in the draft report. The National Park System already suffers from an annual $800-million operations funding shortfall, and currently awaits a $200-million proposed increase in park operations for fiscal year 2008—legislation now stalled in Congress. In addition, the proposed “National Park Centennial Challenge” program would authorize mandatory spending of up to $100 million per year to match contributions from private philanthropic sources, which could benefit the redevelopment of Flamingo as well. As the Park Service prepares for its Centennial in 2016, private sector partnerships will likely be necessary to make the redevelopment of Flamingo possible.
View NPCA's vision for rebuilding Flamingo here.