Sea level rise leads to changes at iconic Peacock Park

One of Coconut Grove’s most iconic views will soon start to look a little different. The culprit? Climate change.

Peacock Park will be the site of a shoreline stabilization project that aims to combat the effects of sea level rise. A landscaped berm with a sidewalk will replace the existing shoreline along Biscayne Bay and include a kayak launch on the north end of the shore. Residents have raised concerns about the efficacy of the project and the impact the proposed improvement will have.

In 1883, Peacock Park was the site of the first hotel on the mainland south of Palm Beach. The site was home to the Peacock Inn until 1902, and was purchased by the city of Miami in 1934 and christened as Coconut Grove Bayfront Park. In 1973, in commemoration of the hotel and its owners, Charles and Isabella Peacock, the site was renamed Peacock Park.

Now the park faces a new challenge. According to the Unified Sea Level Rise Projection for Southeast Florida, conducted by the South Florida Regional Climate Compact, seas may rise by 6 to 12 inches by 2030. As one of Coconut Grove’s few remaining waterfront parks, Peacock Park is especially vulnerable.

The existing kayak/paddleboard launch at Peacock Park. (Photo by Carlton Gillespie/ Caplin News)

The plans to combat these challenges were presented to the public at a community meeting held on Feb. 29, attended by approximately two dozen people.

The project will be managed by the city of Miami’s Office of Capital Improvements, and phase 1 is expected to cost $464,580; however the project will be partially funded via a $156,600 grant from the Florida Inland Navigation District. The initial design was completed by a team From Metric Engineering and Cummins Cederberg.

The newly proposed landscaped berm comes with a list of proposed plantings, but will remove the existing coconut palms located just inland of the shoreline. Swales will be placed behind the berm to capture excess runoff and an exfiltration trench will reduce drainage into the bay. The popular existing boardwalk will be kept in place and connected with the new berm.

In addition to the threat of sea level rise, the project is also an opportunity to improve the deteriorating shoreline and improve access to the water.

The existing shoreline at Peacock Park. (Photo by Carlton Gillespie/ Caplin News)

The proposed changes did not mitigate some of the concerns of the citizens who attended the meeting.

One woman said the elevated walkway would block the mangroves along the water’s edge from moving inland — a gradual process that she described as nature’s solution to sea-level rise. Another participant questioned how useful the kayak launch would be without designated parking where paddlers could off load their boats. Still others objected to the loss of the park’s coconut palms.

Additionally some residents felt that the money spent on the shoreline stabilization would be better spent on the athletic fields. The fields are popular, but currently are uneven and sloped down to the shoreline which residents said could cause injury.

It is unclear to what degree of rising seas the berm will protect against. What is also unknown is how well the berm will protect the park during major storm surge events like hurricanes. It is also unknown whether the project will consider the concerns of the public expressed at the meeting.

When reached for comment about these questions, a spokesperson for the city of Miami did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.

This story was also published in the Coconut Grove Spotlight

Carlton is a Digital Broadcasting student and intends to pursue a career in journalism. Born and raised in Broward County, he hopes to combine his passion for this community and storytelling to deliver news, insights, and perspectives to the people of South Florida.