There’s no waiting among fishermen for Riverfront Park to open

There’s no waiting among fishermen for Riverfront Park to open
A wide swath of concrete marks the new, improved bulkhead at Riverfront Park.

The new bulkhead has been built, the sod has been installed, and replacement palm trees have been planted at Riverfront Park, yet the six-foot fence meant to keep the public out still lines the perimeter along River Road.

Although the opening date for the park has yet to be announced by the City of Jacksonville, fishermen have found their way around the fence and have been spotted taking advantage of the rich fishing grounds which lie in the river adjacent to the park.

“Parks told me it’s ‘nearly finished,’” said District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer. But still in the plan is for the City Parks and Recreation Department to add a series of “evenly-spaced” planters along the bulkhead as a deterrent to bicyclists and skateboarders, she said. “The bulkhead cap is much wider than it was before, and they [city officials] are concerned that it might be posing some danger. They want to make it clear that it is not a sidewalk,” she said.

During the first week of May, city workmen on the site informed The Resident that the park might open within “two weeks.” The final cost of the park restoration was $2,535,783, according to the City’s Public Works Department.

Although excessive fishing was a contributing factor to the damage incurred on the old bulkhead, it will still be permitted in the park. “There will not be any special rules, however, the park improvements will minimize the impact of damage to the current park amenities,” said City Spokesperson Tia Ford in an email.

In the past, residents living adjacent to the park have complained about park visitors and fishermen urinating and defecating in their yards and on public property. There are currently no plans to install a portable toilet on the park premises, Ford said. “The City will work with JSO (Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office) to ensure the rules of the park are enforced,” she said.

One solution to curb the damage incurred by large numbers of people fishing in the park is to have the City build wooden fishing platforms and/or decks off the bulkhead in the park. “The planned dock project is a FIND grant project, and we are currently proceeding with the design,” said Ford.

Boyer said the fishing dock was “up for design” next year. Whether the City submits the project for a Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) grant may be up to whomever replaces her on the Jacksonville City Council, Boyer said.

“The vote on what we submit for FIND grants usually occurs in March, but the vote to approve the funds doesn’t happen until August or September,” she said, noting her term ends June 30, 2019. “Most likely it will be the next councilperson who will decide whether they want to move forward on this,” she said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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