S. Fla. island community faces extinction

Islandia had population of 16 in 2010

Published On: Dec 07 2011 05:42:56 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 08 2011 01:32:54 PM EST
Islandia
ISLANDIA, Fla. -

A tiny community on Totten Key, just south of Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park, may soon lose its status as a city as Miami-Dade County takes steps to absorb it. 

Islandia has been a city for decades, but many have not heard of it. According to the 2010 census, Islandia, which is only accessible by boat, had a population of 16 people. 

"There’s really not much of a city.  There’s just a couple of people who are registered voters that live out there,” said Biscayne Park volunteer Urban Buescher. 

Now, the Miami-Dade County Commission has taken the first of two votes, the first step in unincorporating Islandia. 

“It doesn’t change anything for anyone. Islandia has been essentially a city on paper for 40 years,” said Biscayne National Park Ranger Gary Bremen. 

That was a last-ditch effort for developers in the late 1960s, before Biscayne National Monument and Park put Islandia smack in the middle of a federally protected preserve. 

Archival films document Islandia’s beginnings. Several landowners incorporated Dade’s 27th city in the hope of repeating the success of Miami Beach, to build bridges, roads and homes and to create a real estate boom. 

Outlasting that failure, the family of Israel Lafayette Jones, settlers there since 1898, became the biggest landowners in what is now Islandia. 

“He lived there almost until he died, would have lived there until he died if it wasn’t for Hurricane Andrew destroying everything he had in 1992,” Bremen said. 

Abolishing the city of Islandia passed on first vote.  There is a public hearing and one more vote coming up in the next month. By early next year, the city of Islandia may be another part of South Florida history.