The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: Commissioners air pros and cons of opening Ocean Strand

By Steve Plunkett

    Don’t be surprised to get a ticket if you park at Ocean Strand.
    The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District is asking the city to help it keep people off the almost 15-acre parcel that stretches from the Atlantic to the Intracoastal Waterway.
    “We will get with the city to see about access that is being made to the land on the west side of A1A and try to get more control on individuals who go down into the western part of Ocean Strand,” said Arthur Koski, the district’s executive director.
    “It’s got to be secured so they cannot get back there with ATVs,” Commissioner Robert Rollins said.
    Gabriel Banfi, who lives in Boca Towers next to the undeveloped property, told commissioners Oct. 26 that people reach the site in a variety of ways.
    “Some of these people are very unruly,” Banfi said. “Some people just stop their cars there, they are walking there, some others come in bicycles and others in motorcycles.”
    Commissioner Earl Starkoff asked why access to the property, midway between Red Reef and Spanish River parks, is blocked off.
    “Here’s this wonderful piece of land, and we’ve got it fenced off from people who could maybe park there,” he said.
    Koski reminded the board that it decided in 2012 to let “the next generation” decide what to do with the parcel after a consultant said there was no current demand for another beachfront park.
    He also said Ocean Strand would need at least a traffic signal on State Road A1A to keep pedestrians crossing the highway safe if the district were to open the property.
    The site also has mangroves and sea grapes overrunning its seawall on the Intracoastal, a number of exotic plants and an aging dock that is not suitable for public use, Koski said.
    Ocean Strand has sat unused since the district bought it 21 years ago for $11.9 million.
    Starkoff said he wants commissioners to consider short-term and long-term uses of the land at a future meeting instead of waiting for the next generation.

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