By Steve Plunkett
The folks planning a park at Ocean Strand want a few creative ideas on what to put there.
The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which owns the coastal parcel, launched a new website, www.mybocaparks.org, which it hopes the public will use to keep up to date on Ocean Strand. Ideas can be sent to the district by clicking “Contact Us.”
District commissioners in May received their first report on the proposed park from consultants Curtis + Rogers Design Studio and promptly posted it on the website.
“This is really quite a unique site — to have frontage on both the Intracoastal and the ocean — very, very unique,” said Gerald Marston, the firm’s director of design.
He divided the 15 acres of beachfront property that straddles State Road A1A, and is bordered by the Intracoastal Waterway on the west, into ocean, meadow and Intracoastal zones.
“Topographically, it’s a big bump on the ocean side and a big flat plane on the Intracoastal portion,” Marston said.
Environmental consultant Christy Brush said the parcel actually was four areas when it came to seeking permits: beach-dune, upland, mangrove wetlands and submerged lands. The submerged portion might support eight to 10 powerboat slips if commissioners decide that’s what they want, she said.
“I think what we’re looking for at this time is some guidance from the commission,” Marston concluded.
He said he had met briefly with Boca Raton parks officials.
“They said we have enough beachfront, we have enough access for the public to go to the beach,’’ Marston said. “They don’t have at this point in time a survey of what they might suggest. … They’re looking for new and I think just some creative kinds of uses that may not be there today.”
Beach-park Commissioner Dirk Smith suggested a large overlook.
“There is plenty of beachfront property for use by people who want to go swimming and be in the water, but there’s a lot of people that want to just sit out over and look out on the ocean. There is no place for that other than the pavilion down at Palmetto and that’s not a very conducive spot,’’ Smith said.
Other possible uses include activities Boca Raton doesn’t allow elsewhere, such as ocean canoes, boats landing on the beach and surf fishing.
Commission Chairman Dennis Frisch said Ocean Strand should not duplicate other activities available at nearby parks, which include golf and snorkeling at Red Reef, an observation tower, amphitheater and butterfly garden at Gumbo Limbo and a canoe-kayak launch and youth camping at Spanish River.
Bob Langford, the district’s executive director, encouraged the public to use the website.
“Study what we have and there will be more coming on in the future for you to make comments on,’’ Langford said.
Missing from the meeting was a statement from Keep Your Boca Beaches Public, which is suing the city to hold a special election on whether to ban “private development (including members-only cabana clubs)” on public-owned land on the barrier island.
The week before, Commissioner Earl Starkoff made what he called a “reverse public request” of the grassroots group to withdraw their petition and let park planning proceed. Such a move would save taxpayer money, he said.
The beach and park district bought the Ocean Strand property in 1994 for $11.9 million but has not developed it. Penn-Florida Companies proposed a private cabana club there in late 2009 to complement a luxury hotel planned for downtown. Since then, officials have repeatedly stated they want a park