Either oar: City studies kayak options

By Susanna P. Barton

The city continues to weigh its options for a kayak launch in the San Marco/San Jose area. The most recent idea to surface designating a site at Lake Marco, where kayakers and boaters could enter in still waters and paddle out to the St. Johns via the small channel under River Road.

“There has been more discussion, ideas are still being studied,” said Dave Roman, senior policy advisory to Mayor Alvin Brown who has been working on the initiative. “There are a number of sites we’re looking at in the San Marco — San Jose and San Marco are areas where we need water access.”

Other San Marco sites up for consideration are River Oaks Park and Broookwood Road.

Plans for a launch at River Oaks Road raised community concern last spring when city park officials shared plans during a public meeting at Alfred I. duPont Middle School hosted by District 5 City Councilwoman Lori Boyer. Some residents were troubled over the creation of street side parking and how heightened activity at the park might affect an already tricky intersection at River and River Oaks roads. Developing plans for a launch site on Brookwood Road might alleviate those concerns, but no formal plans are in place.

The Lake Marco idea could share similar parking concerns, Roman said, but would be a calm launch for area kayakers.

“The lake, if that was possible, would be nice because it’s calm waters and you could paddle out to that channel,” Roman said. “But nothing’s been decided.”

Doug Skiles, immediate past-president of the San Marco Preservation Society, said Roman had brought up the Lake Marco idea in earlier discussions. He said the city plans to present its ideas at the group’s August board meeting. He said SMPS could not give a comment about the idea yet because the group has not yet voted, nor has it seen the city’s proposal for Lake Marco.

Skiles did say he spoke with Chris Hand, the mayor’s chief of staff, and Hand assured him” there would be a community meeting before doing anything.”

Roman underscored the city is only looking for sites that would require minimal improvements such as signage, landscaping or clearing access — all low cost enhancements. The kayaks are part of a widespread mayoral initiative to increase water and park access across the city.

“We’re going to try and meet with the San Marco Preservation group and there will be some other public meetings after that,” Roman said.

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