Curbelo Applauds Navy's Progress on Sigsbee Housing Units, EPA's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Funding

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Washington, D.C., June 22, 2017 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | comments

Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) joined “Morning Magazine with Bill Becker” yesterday to discuss the Navy’s announcement of a Request for Information for the unoccupied Sigsbee Housing units and three previously-announced Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Since February 2016, Curbelo has urged U.S. Navy officials to move forward with the process of opening up the currently vacant Sigsbee housing units. The Navy’s Request for Information comes after Curbelo’s recent meeting with U.S. Navy officials, during which he once again urged the Navy to act swiftly and was given assurances the next step in the process could be expected soon.

Curbelo had previously announced the three EPA grants for the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary after he urged House Appropriators to provide robust funding for National Marine Sanctuaries and Florida International University’s Water Quality Projects. The grants were made available in H.R. 244, “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017,” legislation supported  by Curbelo.

A partial transcript of the exchange is below. Audio of the exchange is available here.

Curbelo’s comments regarding Sigsbee begin at approximately 3:27, and his comments about the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary begin at approximately 8:03.

Curbelo Applauds Navy's Movement on Sigsbee Housing Units, EPA's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Funding
“Morning Magazine with Bill Becker”
June 21, 2017

Representative Carlos Curbelo: “This was very welcomed news and, Bill, the government works very slowly. We’ve been pushing this for over a year and finally we see some concrete action from the Navy. They have put out a Request for Information, that means that they are inviting those who could potentially, or would be interested, in partnering with the Navy to activate these units for meetings, for informal discussions. This is a critical first step and it’s evident that the Navy is committed at the very least – to making this happen, if it is feasible. That is what they are trying to determine through this RFI process, the feasibility. Without any question, those 166 unites would provide a lot of relief to everyone in Key West, not just military personnel, about half of civilian personnel live off the base. Those people could now move on the base and free up 166 units in the general market, which would be very welcome news because everyone knows how tough it is for people to find housing in Key West. There are a lot of developments, there’s a lot of growth, and that is positive, but if you don’t have people to work in any of those places, it doesn’t really help very much. So I’m excited about it. I wish we could move this along a little more quickly, but this is the government, this is the Pentagon, and we will just keep pushing them to see how quickly we can get those 166 units refurbished and to market.”

Curbelo: “We secured [Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary] funding through the Omnibus bill that we passed recently. Everything we can do to support the Sanctuary and really to support the Florida Keys. I tell people that the Florida Keys make up about 15-20% of the population of the district, but when we look at the number of federal issues that the Florida Keys residents face – from transportation, to environmental, to military – the federal government really has a large role in helping maintain a good quality of life in the Florida Keys. Obviously protecting the environment of the National Marine Sanctuary is a big part of that. We’ve also in recent weeks announced a grant to Key West International Airport for noise mitigation.

“All of these small grants – and I say small relative to the size of the federal budget – go a long way toward improving quality of life in the Florida Keys and to making the Florida Keys resilient, which is obviously a major priority and a big necessity. So we will continue, not just doing the heavy lifting in trying to pass major legislation, but doing the blocking and tackling of getting these types of support for the Florida Keys.” 

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