by Amy Martinez
Updated 2 yearss ago
The Coral Gables City Commission voted unanimously in June to launch a series of community workshops to engage residents in discussing a proposal to put the city’s utility lines underground. Led by Mayor Vince Lago, city officials say undergrounding can help Coral Gables avoid power outages and prevent damage from downed utility poles during future storms.
“When you have a hurricane and a (tree) canopy like the one Coral Gables has, you could be without power for two or three weeks as a result of one line being down,” Lago says.
Coral Gables had planned to begin a community engagement campaign on undergrounding in spring 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to shelve the project. After a series of public workshops, the commission will vote next June on whether to put a measure on the November 2022 ballot to get approval from residents to bury the city’s utilities. While details are still being worked out, the project’s estimated cost of $250 million-plus would be split among the city, its residents and FPL.
Lago says that the project won’t begin without residents’ support. “The only way I’ll move forward is with a referendum,” he says. “The next step would be to solidify the cost by hiring FPL and our outside consultants to give us an actual viable number.”
Meanwhile, other Miami-Dade municipalities, including Key Biscayne, Sunny Isles Beach and Surfside, also have moved to bury their utilities. More than a decade ago, Golden Beach used a general obligation bond to fund a $9-million undergrounding effort.
Read more in Florida Trend's September issue.
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