WHY NOT HERE IN BOCA RATON Parks?

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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

 

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Originally from Nebraska, Jessica Gray has resided in east Boca Raton since 2004, living on the barrier island. Graduating Florida Atlantic University in 2009, Jessica has a degree in Business Marketing, and is a Managing Member at a software sales company. As a founder of Boca Save our Beaches, Jessica’s passions are animals and nature. She is adept in sustainability and looks to the future of Boca Raton.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Wonderful article by a young voice in our community. Quality of life and protecting the environment are issues that know no age – and one doesn’t have to be a waterway property owner to share the same concerns.
    Let’s loosen the reigns on EDSA and allow them real creative freedom.
    Boca Raton is a very rich city, investing in our parks just makes sense.

  2. Jessica, thank you for your valuable view. There are a few who work to wrestle our parks and beaches from us like Boca’s Chamber of Commerce who would sell off all our parks in the name development for “More Business”. Then there are those who want to build on the dunes along North A1A. Boca is so unique, different and special. We must work to preserve what we have. Boca is the last community on water able to save its natural wonders. Why would anyone want to make Boca just like all the other cities? With plenty of overbuilt communities to choose from – Highland Beach might suite your style.

    Last point – ALL efforts to save our parks and beaches, as evidenced by the November election and Save Our Beaches, is born on the shoulders of the public – you and me, citizens who care. Please support Save Our Beaches with whatever you care to give. SOB has hired a lawyer to help fight building on our beach dune. SOB is residents just like you, not a business and not a potential home owner with millions of dollars supported by a Mayor and 4 City Council members who chose to do nothing and worse, they gave the property owner exceptions to the code. We need to fight to keep what we have.

    • “…and 4 City Council members who chose to do nothing and worse, they gave the property owner exceptions to the code.”

      Wrong, I voted no to the lot width variance for 2500 N ocean when it came before. This has even been highlighted in a previous article.

      Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers

  3. Great article. Not just looking into different options, but actually going to different venues & ” doing your homework ” is what and how you/we can see different visions on our community. It’s doesn’t have to be an over whelming venue, small and quaint can serve the same purpose.

  4. The intracoastal side of Ocean Strand is so peaceful. Just sitting there watching nature is restorative.

    I would like to see it not be developed for such intensive use, but have a walking trail and peaceful

    areas to just sit in nature watching birds, boats etc. There could be a small parking area closer to A1A

    for Handicapped and a small number of vehicles, and bike racks. Why not have a natural, peaceful, quiet

    pace to commune with nature.

    • Vivian, I agree with you! I am not proposing we develop this area, I am simply bringing other ideas to the table. We, as residents, can get creative here and with our other parks! Please submit your idea’s to the City’s Coastal Management Division at Coastalmgmt@myboca.us.

  5. I wish to correct my comment above. Jeremy Rodgers did not vote to allow the exception to the variance permitting the application to move forward. My apologies to Jeremy as I believe he was against the project from the beginning. I should have said the Mayor and three Council members.

  6. I read in disbelief as BocaWatch endorsed Jessica Gray’s take on what a proposed Ocean Strand park would look like.

    Gray’s headline of “WHY NOT HERE IN BOCA RATON Parks?” proposal on just how much can be crammed onto the Boca Raton Beach and Park District owned land lacks an important fact – size.

    And that Boca Watch – which preaches “Responsible Growth” – would go along with Gray’s ideas is hypocritical to what it says it stands for.

    Gray speaks of a Whiskey Creek Hideout restaurant, motorized dock/launch, restrooms, paddleboard/kayak/canoe rentals and more on her recent visit to Mizella-Eula Johnson State Park in Dania Beach. She suggests all of that would fit just fine at Ocean Strand.

    All that Gray’s plan lacks is a roller coaster to make it a true Coney Island for what is now a quiet neighborhood.

    What Gray doesn’t tell us is that Mizella-Eula Johnson State Park covers 315 acres.

    Ocean Strand is 15 acres – a mere 600 feet wide.

    Boca Raton voters made it clear in their vote against a similar restaurant on the Wildflower waterfront property, which is located in the middle of a commercial district – not residential like Ocean Strand.

    And, members of the Beach and Park District have held true to their word since purchasing the property 23 years ago, that their intention is to make it a passive park, stating as much in a recent meeting.

    A room full of residents from the Ocean Strand area recently attended that Beach and Park District meeting and were virtually unanimous in opposition to a restaurant of any kind on the property – not to mention many other recommendations being made by architecture/planning consultant EDSA Inc.

    PLEASE adhere to what was discussed at great length at the last Beach and Parks Commission meeting…Keep this a passive park !

    • Andrea, Your passion on this issue is well recognized. The position of the ‘room full’ of Ocean Strand residents is not a mystery. However, the waterfront study is in its early stages; the consultant has presented initial thoughts and has requested ideas and comments from the community. The community is the entirety of the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, some 120k people. The ‘Whiskey Creek’ article explores an alternative for consideration. Nothing more, nothing less. At some point in the future, the City Council will have to take an official action. The Beach and Park District will also weigh in on a final product…but….that time has not yet come. BocaWatch takes no official position at this time. BocaWatch is merely providing a community platform for the residents’ ideas and comments, favorable or not. Your comment is very much appreciated and has been posted. Thank you for participating. Al Zucaro, Publisher

    • Hi Andrea, I am not proposing we develop Ocean Strand. I am simply bringing other ideas to the table. Personally, I do not want anything on the property. Hence writing, “if some residents and visitors of Boca Raton cannot get over not having a restaurant on the water.”

  7. I think a, passive park and one that is handicapped accessible would be perfect.
    and what a nice addition to Boca to remember that the handicapped like the washer also.
    So far, the only handicapped park/ beach is down in Hollywood.

    But before anything is done, a TRAFFIC STUDY needs to be done. Most imperative!

    when season hits, it will be a fight to the death to exit onto A1A while already dodging the bike riders, joggers n general auto traffic. People need to think clearly on this impact.

  8. I am totally new to this forum, and to most of the issues I just read about. I’m a Boca resident since 2001, and I don’t even know where Ocean Strand is. I am, however, very familiar with the three lovely Boca Raton beaches. One thing that struck me immediately on moving down here was how fortunate we are to live in a place where the city leaders had the foresight many years ago to preserve our beach area as a non-commercial place, where we can go to enjoy nature without tee shirt shops, etc. ruining the experience. That is the main reason we bought a small house in east Boca near beach access via the Spanish River bridge years ago. I would like to find out how to get more involved in the effort to keep Boca such a unique and lovely place. I see mention of an organization called Save Our Beaches. Could you let me know how to contact them or donate to them, plus any other info as to how to get involved in saving this beautiful natural resource?

    • Thank you for your comment. Information for donations is contained within the article and display ads in BocaWatch. If you still have difficulty, feel free to contact me directly. My phone number is 561-644-1665. Al Zucaro, Publisher

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