San Marco riverfront park finally reopens

Repair of other docks, bulkheads damaged by hurricanes awaits funding

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Riverfront Park in San Marco has reopened, nearly two years after Hurricanes Matthew initially damaged the bulkhead, then repairs set back when Hurricane Irma came through 11 months later.

Repairs cost the city of Jacksonville $1.7 million. The city hopes the federal government will pay for some of the expenses.

The park residents say San Marco Beach, that's been a popular spot for fishing and just enjoying the river, has been fenced off since October 2016.

Dr. Henry Sacero, who lives next to the park, is glad to see it open again. But he hopes visitors will respect it.

"I think it’s a very nice-looking place, but I don’t think it should be a fishing area. I think should be just for families to come and enjoy," Sacerio said.

Other city-owned property areas along the St Johns River and are still waiting on repairs.

The docks and bulkhead at Metropolitan Park and bulkhead by the Weston are still damaged and unusable. The city said it is waiting on funding to make those repairs.

"It seems like a lot of potential going to waste. The city could do a lot with it," Robert Storey said. "It’s a beautiful dock, but they’ve got a put some money into it. It’s a low priority for the city right now."

The docks and bulkhead by the Jacksonville Landing are still a mess. Those in front of the neighboring Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts were pulled out of the water.

City officials said they are awaiting federal funds before proceeding. Repairs for all the docks will run into the millions of dollars. 

"We are working through all of the dock projects," Public Works Director John Pappas said. "We are working with FEMA and working forward with getting those repaired. "We are pushing them, and we are going to get them out and fixed as soon as possible."

There will be discussions at budget talks over the next month at City Council about proceeding with initial repairs while waiting for federal funds.

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