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2 city parks remain closed because of hurricane damage

Repairs after Hurricane Matthew could take months, cost millions, city says

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Repairs for damage left at two Jacksonville parks by Hurricane Matthew could run into the millions and might not begin for months, according to city officials.

Riverfront Park in San Marco used to be one of the best views in the city, but city workers have put up a fence that looks almost like a permanent structure. City officials said it's not permanent but it was necessary for safety reasons because of the damage left by Hurricane Matthew.

They said repair work is going to take some time and the fence is going to be there for a while.

It’s a similar story at Mandarin's County Dock, where the boat ramp and pier remain closed.

The city is still determining what it will have to do for repairs. People in the area would like to see the dock fixed, but they understand that priorities might be elsewhere.

“In terms of parks, I would like to see this put back together as soon as possible, so we can go back out and see the manatees,” park visitor Gordon Levine said.

Neighbors said they think the fence the city put up at Riverfront Park is too much.

“I mean, they could have just blocked off the areas that are damaged rather than putting up this huge fence keeping everybody from the entire thing,” neighbor Kendall Wilson said.

The parks department tried that but people ignored the barricades, so the city installed the fence for liability reasons.

“They are taking away a lot of the beauty,” said Sam Mitchell, who lives across from Riverfront Park. “It's a very picturesque spot. It's not anymore.”

The city is still assessing the damage and said the repairs could take some time.

“It was a project that needed to happen, because we have seen some erosion and washouts and things in individual areas,” City Council President Lori Boyer said. “The storm made it kind of apparent that it was the whole bulkhead that needed work.”

The city said it could take months before damage estimates are completed for its parks and docks, and in some cases, repairs might not even begin until after the first of the year.

The city is hoping that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the cost of many of the repairs. 

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.