The Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park, including the parking lot, beach access and all related facilities, will experience intermittent, temporary closures beginning as early as this week through March 1 while the site is used as a staging area for beach restoration efforts.
Billy Zeits, the assistant director of parks & recreation for St. Johns County, said Mickler’s will be closed Monday to Friday morning for the beach restoration project. The park and associated facilities, he said, will be open Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday to allow residents and visitors to access them on the weekends. He also noted, however, that if weather conditions are poor on any particular weekend, Mickler’s may be closed then too.
Zeits explained that the closures are taking place to provide residents and their respective contractors the opportunity to place sand in front of their homes after hurricanes Matthew and Irma and subsequent nor’easters and high tides damaged their properties. The parking lot will be used as a staging area for the sand, which will then be transported by trucks via the beach access to homes both north and south of Mickler’s.
“We’re dealing with a unique situation of two significant weather events within the past year,” Zeits said. “We have some coastal properties that have been compromised, and we want to give those residents an opportunity to restore their properties and minimize the closures to the public by taking a collective approach.”
Zeits added that this work presents a safety concern if the park and facilities are open to the public at the same time.
A similar beach restoration project resulted in the closure of Mickler’s and its facilities last year. Zeits said, however, that three times as many residents have filed requests with the county this year to use the beachfront park for the project. He noted that a small percentage of homeowners ultimately executed upon the project last year.
Zeits explained that residents filed the requests because they’re unable to repair the damage via their own property and need to get to the affected areas from a different direction/method, which in this case is from the Mickler’s access. Zeits said the Board of County Commissioners directed county staff to determine if it were possible to allow coastal construction access for “collective use,” and staff deemed it was indeed plausible.
Zeits said the scope of each homeowner’s restoration project is different based on the damage to the respective property. He noted that homeowners will all have permits with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for their respective beach restoration efforts.
As of now, Zeits noted that Fort Myers-based Coastal Erosion Protection Systems is the lone contractor to have filed a formal request with the county. That contractor’s agreement with the county was ironed out earlier this week and, according to Zeits, lasts until March 1.
Once these beach restoration efforts conclude, Zeits said the county plans to restore the Mickler’s walkover by May 1.