Storm widens holes in Riverfront Park

Storm widens holes in Riverfront Park
Holes deep and wide were created near the bulkhead after Hurricane Hermine in early September.

Hurricane Hermine was not kind to the bulkhead in Riverfront Park.

The early September storm caused much concern among neighboring residents after it tossed flotsam over the bulkhead’s banks and cut huge holes into the grass of the narrow park strip that lines the St. Johns River in San Marco.

After an initial clean-up from the storm, Keith Meyerl, division chief of recreational programming for the City’s Park and Recreation Department and San Marco’s Tom McKnight, manager of contract administration for the City’s Engineering Division, were seen surveying the damage and checking in on Geotech testing that is part of a planned city project to restore the embattled bulkhead in the riverfront park.

The project is slowly making its way through channels at City Hall, said Council President Lori Boyer, who as District 5 Councilwoman represents San Marco. The first step was identifying the problem as a bulkhead in need of repair and that has been completed, she said. When preliminary bids to fix the problem came in, they were too high. Since then, the project had been rebid and additional funds toward it have been allocated, she said, noting the project has been approved by the city procurement committee.

Currently the contract is being looked over by the Office of General Counsel, which might take as long as two months, she said.

Once the contract is executed and the permitting process is complete, work should commence in the park, she said, adding she has been told the stand-alone project should not take “too long” once it starts.

Boyer said she is not sure of the form of the final design. Having a paved lip or apron run along the rim of the bulkhead with some holders for fishing poles embedded in the concrete had been discussed but she is unsure whether that has been included in the final plans, she said.

Riprap, rock or other material used to armor shoreline structures to prevent water erosion, will be placed at the base of the bulkhead as part of the project, she said.

In the meantime, barricades will be put up around the ever-widening holes in order to give park visitors and fishermen warning that they may not be walking on solid ground.

At present, city officials are leery of spending more money to plug the holes as a stop-gap measure as what they have done in the past has not lasted or seemed to do much good. “We will know more about short-term solutions when engineering has had a chance to evaluate and long-term when design is completed,” said City Spokesperson Tia Ford in an email.

Pointing to the Landon Middle School Track drainage project, which took an extra year to complete from what was originally scheduled, Boyer advised the project may take longer than she would like to see.

“It may be unfortunately a year before it is actually finished and we have a ribbon-cutting or it could be sooner, I don’t know,” said Boyer.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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