FEMA obligates $1.2M+ for repairs at Isla de Cabras in Toa Baja
To help preserve Puerto Rico’s natural resources that were affected by Hurricane María, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) allocated more than $1.2 million to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER, in Spanish) to repair the Isla de Cabras recreational facility in Toa Baja.
Some of the work to be performed at the park, where the Fortín San Juan de la Cruz is located and is recognized by UNESCO, includes the replacement of the pavement, the aluminum roof, and a wooden terrace.
In addition, other electrical components such as lighting throughout the facility will be repaired, and painting of the complex will also be completed with these federal funds.
“Open spaces like this one are of great value to Puerto Ricans because they provide a place for leisure and enjoyment for everyone. Likewise, with these funds we are helping to protect areas with access to the important natural resources that our island possesses,” said FEMA’s Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator, José G. Baquero.
The Isla de Cabras National Park facilities to be repaired were built between 1990 and 2004 and include greenery and playgrounds, an administrative office, gazebos, a boat ramp, and a beach area. The emblematic islet, located at the entrance of San Juan Bay and forming part of the Palo Seco neighborhood, has one of the widest views of the Bay and Old San Juan and encompasses a great historical legacy.
“It’s very important for the DNER to safeguard this natural treasure that we have in Isla de Cabras,” said Angelina Morales-Pérez, Acting Assistant Secretary of the DNER’s National Parks Program, adding this is an area of historical and cultural value for the agency.
“It’s a natural reserve visited by fishermen, families with their children, tourists and seniors who come to enjoy the beautiful scenery and these small natural pools created by nature,” she said.
Morales-Pérez added that the park receives about 60,000 visitors annually, and these funds allow the facility to return to full operating capacity for the benefit of the community.
“The collaboration with FEMA has included much dialogue and has been a key piece in the restoration of this and many more facilities at the DNER level,” she said.
Of the total of funds, about $79,000 was earmarked for hazard mitigation, so that the facilities will be better prepared for future disasters. Some of the mitigation work includes the installation of rip rap to secure the surrounding embankment and geogrid to reinforce the subsoil.
Concrete drains will also be retrofitted to handle excessive water runoff and exterior panels will be installed to protect the windows, among other mitigation measures.
“Thousands of families will soon be able to enjoy recreational facilities in optimal conditions and preserving the great historical value that Isla de Cabras represents. Our team at COR3 will continue to support the DNER throughout the process required to advance the development of this project, which has high visibility for the community and tourists and positively impacts the economic development of the region,” said Manuel A. Laboy-Rivera, executive director of the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3).