St. Augustine Surveys Public Before Workshop On Resiliency & Flooding At Historic Sites

Jan 15, 2019

The City of St. Augustine is collaborating with Flagler College to get input from the community ahead of an upcoming workshop on resilience, sea level rise and the future impact of flooding on historic places.

The St. Augustine: Community Resilience and Cultural Resources workshop is scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, at the Willie Galimore Center, 399 Riberia St. The workshop will be followed by a community enrichment program hosted by Flagler College from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St.

Ahead of that workshop, members of the community are being asked to participate in an online survey on the city’s website.

“The survey is to identify what people in the community value,” said Leslee Keys, Assistant Professor and Director of Historic Preservation and Special Initiatives at Flagler College. “It's a short, simple survey that takes less than ten minutes to do. But it will give us enough background information that the facilitators can target the workshop sessions to make sure that they are answering questions that arose through the survey.”

She said the survey will also help them gauge the level of understanding people have on the topic before they even walk into the room.

The workshop itself will be broken into two sessions. The first will run from 8 a.m. to noon and it’ll be specifically tailored for public officials and business leaders. The second is scheduled to run from 1 to 5 p.m. and is aimed at community members and stakeholders.

Both sessions will offer the chance for residents to discuss the city’s adaptation options and priorities. City staff and relevant experts will be on hand to facilitate the dialogue, which is expected to touch on issues like land use regulations, structural and non-structural mitigation, public awareness, cultural and historic resource protection, natural resource protection, as well as business and economic development.

The workshop will be facilitated by Lisa Craig, Principal for the Craig Group, LLC, a group of design and planning professionals that support community leaders, local governments and nonprofit organizations in growing the economic value of and protecting the architectural and cultural integrity of historic communities.

The workshop is funded in part by a grant from the Florida Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The evening event following the workshop will feature two speakers - Marcus DuBois King from George Washington University and Elizabeth Armistead Andrews from William & Mary Law School - who will be presenting on sea level rise and coastal resources.

“As the waters warm, storm damage has the potential to become greater than it has been in the past,” Keys said. “Most people, I think, would like to try to protect their own home. So we hoped they would also like to understand that the unique heritage we share here in the nation's oldest city is our tourism industry, and it has been for almost two hundred years now.”

According to Keys, tourism isn’t the biggest source of jobs for the city, but it is one of the most significant economic drivers.

“We are a little town of fifteen thousand,” she said. “But we have more than six million visitors a year.”

And on top of touring the Flagler College campus or visiting the Castillo de San Marcos, those six million tourists are often paying bed taxes and for parking, which, according to Keys, helps keep taxes relatively low in St. Augustine.

Organizers say the results of the survey and feedback provided at the workshops will inform residents how they can best support the city and its cultural institutions as they look to adapt St. Augustine’s historic and economic assets as sea levels continue to rise, flooding occurs more frequently and storms and hurricanes become more intense.

Results of the survey and workshop will also be compiled and presented at the Keeping History Above Water: St. Augustine 2019, Envision 2050 Conference, scheduled for May 5-8, which will explore the impacts of sea level rise on historic coastal and river communities and their cultural resources. The Keeping History Above Water international conference is being offered through a partnership between Flagler College, the City of St. Augustine, the University of Florida, the Newport Restoration Foundation and 15 other partners.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.