River to Sea Preserve ribbon cutting held

Historic City News was informed by Beverly Keneagy, Communications Consultant for the Friends of A1A, that new picnic pavilions, a gazebo, and additional beach walkovers are among the new public amenities that were celebrated at the ribbon cutting for the River to Sea Preserve near Marineland.

The improvements are part of a multi-year plan for improving the 90-acre park that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Matanzas River. The enhancements come as a result of numerous entities working collaboratively, including the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, which obtained federal grant funding for the work.

Anne Wilson, Chair of Scenic PRIDE and Vice President of the Friends of A1A said, “Today marks a momentous occasion that we have long awaited. We began this process more than seven years ago. Since then, there have been many bumps in the road and even some potholes, but we worked together to persevere.”

Wilson thanked all of the partners and gave credit to the Flagler County Commission, County Administrator Craig Coffey, Flagler County Engineer Amy Kennedy and the A1A volunteers overseeing the project for keeping it on track for completion. Special acknowledgements were also given to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, U.S. Representative John Mica and Fla. Rep. William Proctor for their assistance.

The new enhancements are on the east side of the park and include new beach walkovers, an information kiosk, pavilions and picnic tables, a modern-day replica of a former coast guard observation tower, landscaping and sidewalks. Improvements for the west side of the park are in development, with plans for new trails, an additional kayak launching area and a more visible and appealing entrance to the park.

The project was made possible by the combined efforts of the Flagler County Board of Commissioners, the Friends of A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, A1A River to Sea PRIDE, the City of Flagler Beach, the Florida Dept of Transportation (District 5 office), and the Federal Highways Administration who administers the National Scenic Byways Program from which the grants funds came to make the project possible. Each of these entities devoted numerous hours to the project.

The park improvements celebrated today completes the Friends of A1A’s portion of the project, but it will continue to work collaboratively with Flagler and St. Johns counties on further park improvements along the byway. More park openings are planned for St. Johns County, with the most recent one occurring last week on Veteran’s Day with the dedication of the St. Augustine Beach Veterans Memorial.

The Friends of A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway is a non-profit organization that protects, preserves, and enhances resources along the A1A National Scenic Byway. This citizen’s advocacy group partners with municipalities, governmental agencies and other civic groups to maintain and improve resources along the corridor.

Designated in 2002, the A1A Coastal Byway consists of 72 miles along St. Johns and Flagler counties Atlantic Ocean. The Byway is rich in history, nature, archeology, culture, scenery and recreation.

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