broken-up pieces of the sidewalk across A1A from Anchor Park.
Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Jane Smith
Delray Beach started working on its $3.1 million redo of the beach promenade in early April.
The north end of the municipal beach soon became a construction zone. No on-street parking was allowed. The city is urging beachgoers to park in the lots on the west side of Ocean Boulevard or to use the two city garages downtown and take the trolley to the beach.
In late April, the contractor established a construction zone at the south end of the beach, banning on-street parking from Casuarina Road north to the Sandoway parking lot.
When finished by fall, the promenade will have wider sidewalks and smart parking meters that can take credit cards or be programmed through a smartphone. There will also be coordinated beach furniture, including new shower poles, trash cans, water fountains and benches.
Originally, the city wanted the benches to be unadorned.
But residents who bought plaques to commemorate good times at the beach were disappointed. They wrote emotional appeals and talked at City Commission meetings about the significance of the plaques purchased with benches.
Commissioner Mitch Katz offered a compromise that would allow the original plaques, when possible, to be attached to the new benches.
“That’s wonderful,” said Bob Victorin, Beach Property Owners Association president. As a donor and resident, he wrote to city commissioners asking them to reevaluate their decision to remove the bench plaques. His purchase honored his family's time at the beach.
The city was planning to respect the donors and their intentions by offering the return of the benches and a carved brick paver that would form the base of the flagpole at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.
But that offer was not well-received.
The city’s Environmental Services Department is in the process of determining whether the original plaques can be attached to the new benches, said John Morgan, department head. His department will decide on a case-by-case basis which plaques can be reused, because they are not all the same size.
The compromise also pleased bike shop owner Albert Richwagen, who purchased a bench with a plaque at the south end. His plaque honored his father, Robert L. Richwagen.
“That’s great. That’s more than they had to do,” he said. “The agreement I signed said the benches could be removed at any time for work along the beach.”
While starting work on the beach’s north end, the contractor found problems with the knee wall, Morgan said. The wall, about 20 inches high and 12 inches wide, extends for nearly a half-mile on the west side of the beach, stopping about a quarter-mile north of the Atlantic Avenue Pavilion. People sit on the wall when taking off their shoes before hitting the sand.
The wall is made of stacked concrete the city used back in the 1960s when it didn’t have much of a beach, Morgan said. “Once it was sandblasted and the paint removed, rusted rebar was seen poking through the concrete,” he said.
Patching of the wall was an annual fix, Morgan said. The contractor designed a long-term fix that is not as labor-intensive. The fix involves capping the entire length of the wall.
That process will cost the city $85,000. The contractor will charge only $44,000 because of a $41,000 credit.