Biden’s infrastructure plan, Naples’ seawall and a Simpsons moment

President Joe Biden signs the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law on Monday. (Photo: White House)

On Monday, Nov. 15, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law.

The same day, the Naples City Council voted to repair an aging, sagging seawall running along Gulf Shore Blvd., outside Venetian Village. Its cost is estimated to be $900,000. The city spent a whopping $341,000 in litigation fees denying responsibility for the seawall, only to lose the case in May. On Monday it was presented with four alternatives to repair the wall by engineers and voted to proceed with a hybrid solution using the existing structure but improving it with a new section.

The deteriorating section of seawall along Gulf Shore Blvd. (Photo: City of Naples)

Is there a connection between Biden’s signing the Infrastructure Act and the Naples City Council voting to fix the seawall?

Well, yes and no. There isn’t right now, but there could be.

The Infrastructure Act will be pumping $19 billion into Florida over the next five years. A chunk of that change will be going toward helping communities build resilience against the effects of climate change. That includes things like bolstering seawalls holding back waters rising because of global warming.

Could the City of Naples present its crumbling seawall as a bulwark against those rising waters caused by climate change?

It likely could if it broadened its horizons beyond just Venetian Bay. The whole point of the Biden infrastructure plan is to reach down to local communities like Naples and help them improve the built environment that makes civilized human life possible and efficient.

Of course, the city would have to apply for a grant, presumably from the state, to get the money. That grant application might be rejected. Then again, it might be approved—but the city won’t know unless it tries.

Also, the City of Naples would be doing this in a state that is virtually in revolt against the federal government, led by a governor Hell-bent on rejecting all forms of federal assistance and blocking all efforts to keep Floridians safe, healthy and alive.

But if the City of Naples has the good sense to look beyond the partisan hysteria and sheer bile being hurled at Washington, DC from Southwest Florida’s more primitive residents, it just might find that its seawall problem is part of a much larger, global situation—and that it has a partner in a President and a federal government committed to addressing it.

A Simpsons moment

The Naples situation is reminiscent of an episode of The Simpsons animated TV show called “Last Exit to Springfield” (season 4, episode17). In the episode Homer Simpson’s daughter Lisa needs braces on her teeth. However, Homer’s union is about to give away its dental benefit in exchange for a keg of beer.

As Homer lines up to get his cup of beer, his friend Lenny’s voice repeatedly plays in his head, saying “dental plan!” It’s answered by his wife Marge’s voice saying “Lisa needs braces!”

Homer thinks there might be a connection—but can he make it?

Naples right now might just be the Homer Simpson of Florida, with two voices going through its head.

“Infrastructure plan!” “Seawall needs repair!

“Infrastructure plan!” “Seawall needs repair!

“Infrastructure plan!” “Seawall needs repair!

Can Naples make the connection? Let’s hope the answer isn’t “d’oh!

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg

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