Publisher’s Comment:

Beaches and Parks seem to be the topic of the month.  Ocean Strand, Red Reef and Wildflower to mention just a few.  EDSA, the city’s consultant, has presented some generic ideas for public consumption.  Their presentation has met with mixed reviews.  Kona Gray, the lead consultant on the project, asked interested community members for comments, criticism and ideas.   A few weeks ago, BocaWatch presented visuals of Sullivan Park in Deerfield Beach. Last week, BocaWatch published Margaret Fitzsimons’ power point containing  serious idea themes for the Wildflower as a ‘downtown’ catalyst of recreation and economic development.  Today, BocaWatch presents Jessica Gray’s suggestions and ideas for other significant park locations; to wit: Ocean Strand and Red Reef.  BocaWatch, next week, will begin a visual tour series of Boca park images from the water’s side….Stay Tuned for what should prove to be a very enlightening tour; a precursor for ideas of what residents are expecting to come!!!

Al Zucaro

Ocean Strand

Last week I did an eco-tour, to learn more about manatees, turtles, tides, etc. in Fort Lauderdale. It was an incredible, educational day, departing from the riverfront downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Along the tour, which took place on a water taxi, we stopped and docked at Mizella-Eula Johnson State Park in Dania Beach https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks/dr-von-d-mizell-eula-johnson-state-park.  What a cool set up they have! This park has similar features to Ocean Strand, including beachfront and intracoastal access.

Inside this park lies a small, ten table venue serving burgers, beers and hotdogs from 9am to 6pm, seven days a week overlooking the intracoastal. This venue is called Whiskey Creek Hideout and is far, unrelated to a Guanabanas style restaurant. We, as residents, spent a lot of time and effort, succeeding in not allowing a large waterfront restaurant downtown. Why would we want one on A1A?

My thoughts are, if some residents and visitors of Boca Raton cannot get over not having a restaurant on the water, this small concession called Whiskey Creek Hideout could be our best bet to present to the City’s Consultant, ESDA, to get away from a “Guanabana’s” style place. The concession in Dania Beach is a very small footprint vs what has been proposed. I often wonder if ESDA has ever visited Guanabanas in Jupiter? Great venue, but loud, very large and extremely busy.

Whiskey Creek also has paddle boards, kayak rentals, canoe rentals, restrooms, motorized and unmotorized docks and launches, beach access and intracoastal access. See more pictures here https://www.facebook.com/bgwhiskeycreekhideout/. This park also does eco tours, sunset tours, yoga SUP and full moon paddle sessions. How fun could this be if Boca Raton modeled it?

The small venue’s website is https://whiskeycreekhideout.com/, and it is totally worth a drive down to explore opportunities!

Red Reef Park

On another note, during EDSA’s Waterfront Presentation, it was proposed that snorkel equipment could be rented at Red Reef Park. I would invite the presenter of EDSA to snorkel Red Reef. The reef has been literally suffocated by the continuous beach dredging, and is now dead.

After speaking to Larry Cellon from Boca Raton, he had a great suggestion for Red Reef Park. “How about we put in a string of ‘erojacks’ (see Dania Beach project) out from Red Reef Park to recreate a snorkeling environment that was once enjoyed by many.” Check out http://sinkfloridasink.com/south-florida-dive-sites/south-florida-beach-dives/dania-beach-erojacks-south-florida-scuba-diving-beach-dive-site/

“Re-establishing a living reef will have the following benefits:

  1. Provide a family friendly snorkeling activity
  2. Provide a connection with nature not otherwise available in Boca Raton
  3. Tourists reasonably expect to observe sea life off our beaches
  4. Low cost concept compared to other options
  5. Re-establishment of a lost natural resource
  6. Work with FAU marine engineering dept. to maximize concept”

We have a great thing here in Boca Raton, let’s make it greater – together.

Jessica Gray