In 1994, when Boca Raton bought the Ocean Strand property for $11.9 million, many praised the investment as a victory for preserving green space. Twenty years later, the 15-acre property between high-rise condominiums and homes remains blissfully undeveloped.
    It’s refreshing to see such a beautiful slice of old Florida protected, but it’s also a shame that there is no public access to the public land, which stretches from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean.
    Boca Raton has several beautiful seaside parks, including Spanish River, Red Reef and South Beach. But perhaps the city and the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which owns the land, should revisit the idea of making Ocean Strand a passive park, as Joe Pedalino, chairman of Keep Your Boca Beaches Public, suggests in Cheryl Blackerby’s Page 1 story.
    Pedalino said he thinks Ocean Strand should be designed as a park for people with disabilities and their families, allowing all to have use of park facilities and the ocean.
    In fact, only three years ago the Beach and Park District spent $20,000 for a landscape architect to draw plans for a passive park. But nothing ever became of those plans.
    Jay Van Vechten, founder and now executive director of the annual Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities, likes the idea of a seaside park being developed for people with disabilities.
    “It would be great if the Strand had a universally designed play area, for example, where children of all abilities could play freely,” Van Vechten said. “Fortunately, Sugar Sand Park is about to start renovating its children’s playground, spending $1 million to make it accessible for all. And that’s very good news indeed.”
    He’s not interested in basing the Bash at the Strand, however.
    “We love Spanish River Park,” he said. “It is the ideal location for the Bash, offering plenty of parking, accessible paths, shaded picnic areas, and both beach and Intracoastal access. If the city continues to allow us to use it, we’re staying!”
    Regardless of where the Bash is held, Ocean Strand seems to be a perfect place for a passive park designed to welcome all, including those with disabilities. It’s too beautiful for no one but the birds and sea turtles to experience.

— Mary Thurwachter, Managing Editor

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  • Totally agree with you. A passive park with some great features for accessability for the disabled. Preserving precious waterfront and green space that is fast disappearing. Hope the Beach and Tax District looks into this option some more.
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