Riverfront Park off limits until bulkhead damage repaired

Riverfront Park off limits until bulkhead damage repaired
To protect the bulkhead, the City has erected a six-foot chain-link semi-permanent fence along the border of Riverfront Park.

Because Hurricane Matthew took its toll on Riverfront Park, the grassy waterfront span so popular with fishermen, dogwalkers and other visitors is now off limits indefinitely.

Although San Marco was largely spared, suffering mainly tree damage when the Category 4 hurricane passed by, the bulkhead running along the river in the park adjacent to River Road between Landon Avenue and Laverne Street was severely damaged.

Already suffering holes inflicted by Hurricane Hermine in September, Matthew’s wrath served to widen and deepen the craters, pulling away much of the soil and grass that runs adjacent to the cement wall alongside the river, making for a dangerous situation for anyone walking or fishing near the river’s edge.

The bulkhead in Riverfront Park was severely damaged during Hurricane Matthew in early October.

The bulkhead in Riverfront Park was severely damaged during Hurricane Matthew in early October.

To prevent further damage to the park, the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department has erected a semi-permanent, six-foot-high chain-link fence along River Road spanning the park’s entire length.

Jacksonville City Council President and District 5 Representative Lori Boyer said the city intends to do the bulkhead repairs next year but has been waiting to see if President Barak Obama would make a disaster declaration to cover public facilities and private homes so federal funding can be used for the repairs. On Oct. 25, the city was advised the declaration had been expanded to include repair of damaged public facilities, she said.

“We got some complaints from residents that people were moving the temporary fencing aside and stepping over it. From a risk management and safety standpoint the city installed a fence in that vicinity until we can get the bulkhead repaired. Right now, it is dangerous. Right now, it has become a hazard,” she said.

“We don’t know to what extent the bulkhead may be covered, but it was clearly damaged by the storm,” Boyer continued. “The Geotech work has been completed and Public Works expects a final design and price in the next several weeks. If all goes well, construction could begin in early 2017.”

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