Repairing Hurricane Irma Damage At Jacksonville Parks Will Take Another Year

Sep 11, 2018

The water that rolled over Riverside’s Memorial Park is long gone, but a year after Hurricane Irma slammed Jacksonville, the metal barricades along the park’s riverfront are an everyday reminder of the damage that was wrought.

The barricades are still standing in for chunks of the ornamental concrete balustrade that were wiped away when Irma helped to force the St. Johns River over its banks. Also hammered was the bulkhead under the balustrade, so it will take more extensive work to get the park back to pre-Irma condition.

The city’s latest estimate is the work at Memorial Park will be done by summer 2019, according to our Florida Times-Union news partner.

The city also has penciled in summer 2019 to finish hurricane-related fixes at several other parks: the dock at County Dock; the boardwalks at Arlington Lions Club, Blue Cypress and Ringhaver parks; and the boat ramp at Joe Carlucci Park.

Related: Jacksonville's Ken Knight Dr. Neighborhood Still Recovering 1 Year After Irma

Work slated to be done by fall 2019 includes the docks in the vicinity of the Jacksonville Landing, the fishing dock at Dames Point Park, a floating dock at Trout River Park, a boardwalk at the St. Johns Marina and a fishing boardwalk at Metropolitan Park. The marina at Met Park is open.

In a recent long-awaited reopening of a park facility, the campgrounds at Huguenot Park are once again available for camping. The campgrounds got knocked out of operation by Hurricane Matthew in 2017, and Irma caused more delays in getting them reopened.

The pace of repairs at city parks is tied to the city’s applications for reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA will shoulder a large portion of the cost, but it has tight regulations for making those pay-outs.

The city suffered a setback when FEMA said the city could not use contracts it already had available to do hurricane-related work because those contracts had provisions giving local preference to businesses for a share of the work being done.

That caused “a significant delay” because the city had to go back to square one in order to go through the various steps needed to bring consultants on board, according to the city.

In the case of Memorial Park, the extensive damage makes it understandable that it will take time to do all the repairs, said Michele Luthin, spokeswoman for the Memorial Park Association, a community-based non-profit that works to enhance and preserve the park.

A longer version of this story that includes additional photos is at Jacksonville.com.