December 6, 2017

File
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center has been approved for $67,500 in capital resources grant money from the Monroe County Tourist Development Center to improve its pelican pond.

File The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center has been approved for $67,500 in capital resources grant money from the Monroe County Tourist Development Center to improve its pelican pond.

TAVERNIER — The Monroe County Tourist Development Council has OK’d the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center request for $67,500 in capital resources grant funds to improve its pelican pond.

The request is included under bulk approval items on December’s Monroe County Commission agenda, which means it will be voted on without discussion unless held by a commissioner.

The center recently installed a closed-loop wastewater treatment system at the pelican pond that filters 500 gallons per hour. The addition finally brought the center into compliance with state and local code this summer. That $20,000 filtration system will remain.

The TDC grant money will make improvements to the pond, which is the main attraction of the bird center, said Rob Bulkiewicz, the center’s director.

“The goal is to make it a natural pond, and to fill in the jagged bottom,” he said. “It will be all natural looking. We are adding skimmers and some additional filtration. It’s going to be an even better environment for the birds.”

The concrete-blasted bottom will replace the mesh liner that’s currently there. A 2-foot coping lip will be installed as well to further prevent leaching.

The excavation, fill and coping is estimated to cost $90,000, according to the bird center’s submitted application.

Bulkiewicz expects the project to take about two months to complete. The pelicans and other seabirds will be temporarily relocated on site during the renovations.

“We are so thankful for this money. We couldn’t do this without it. It’s going to be a big improvement to the pond. The birds are going to be happy,” Bulkiewicz said.

The bird center has a year to use the money, which is not to exceed $67,500, of which $27,000 was allocated from the TDC’s Islamorada District Advisory Council and $40,500 from the Key Largo DAC.

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is located at 93600 Overseas Highway, bayside For more information, visit keepthemflying.org or call 305-852-4486.

tjava@keysnews.com