Port of Miami Dredge Project Rankles Even the Rich: Fisher Island Residents Pissed, Could Sue

​This weekend, Port of Miami director Bill Johnson wrote to The Miami Herald to rebut "naysayers" who just don't understand what an "enviable position" the city will be in once we've blasted Biscayne Bay to accommodate super-sized freight ships. He refuted the warnings of local boat captain Dan Kipnis and called the dredge a "once in a lifetime opportunity to expand our economic base."

But not all the arguments against the dredge are environmental. Nor are all of its opponents salty old sailors like Kipnis, who a Port of Miami spokeswoman dismissed as "knowing nothing about international trade."

Even homeowners on ritzy Fisher Island are taking exception to the dredge project, which could seriously damage the rich enclave's already crumbling seawall.

"Port officials and I have been going at it for years over the dredging," says Fisher Island Community Association president Irwin Potash. "I'm not happy about it."

He says that part of the island's seawall crumbled during previous blasting done by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2003 and 2006, causing swimming pools to leak and other millionaire-related problems we non-millionaires can only imagine.

"They didn't pay to fix the seawall, so we've just been doing temporary jobs on it ever since," Potash says. "It's basically Jerry-rigged."

Now he's afraid the same -- or worse -- damage will happen this time around, leaving Fisher Island residents stuck not only with a multi-million-dollar tab but with sullied pools to boot.

But Potash says residents are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore.

"When they are going to finish, they are going to have to fix the seawalls or there will be problems," he says. "We'll probably file suit."

"We didn't ask for this project, so someone --- the state, county, or Army Corps - should fix (the damage it will cause) for us," he says. Fisher Island residents are tired of getting saddled with undeserved bills, just because they can afford it. "We're probably the biggest tax donor in this town," Potash says.

Unlike his blue-collar counterpart Kipnis, however, Potash thinks the dredge is now a fait accompli.

"You're not going to stop it," he says. "But how they do it makes all the difference."

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.