By Suzy Kridner
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mojica, EyeSkye Imaging LLC, www.myeyeskye.com: This photo taken with an aerial camera shows the recent renovations to the Flagler Avenue Boardwalk. The new pavilion is at the right with steps leading down to the beach, and the new restroom building is near the center of the photo.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - With perfect weather ushering in July, a busy month at the beach for locals and vacationers, New Smyrna Beach has finished the Flagler Avenue Boardwalk Park improvements just in time.
The ribbon cutting for the Boardwalk Park has been delayed, but the facilities are already being put to good use as crowds are filling the parking lot during the holiday week.
Those heading to the beach can watch live action on a beach camera at the Boardwalk Park and check the weather, the tide and the crowds by going online to http://volusia.org/beach/smyrna.htm
While there's driving on the beach in that area, there's no parking on the beach directly in front of the pavilion.
The Boardwalk Park Project was started in October and includes the repair of an existing seawall, repair of an existing pavilion, a brick courtyard with new stainless steel railing, construction of a new restroom building and showers, and parking lot enhancements. Landscaping, an irrigation system, and compliant lighting for turtles also were installed.
"Both age and deterioration necessitated improvements to the park," Tony Otte, the city's Community Development Agency director, said in an email last week.
"The salt air had a corrosive effect on the former pavilion roof structure, and the restrooms were old and needed to be demolished and replaced with new restrooms. The parking lot needed to be organized to facilitate orderly parking."
The old pavilion roof was salvaged and the developers of the new Hampton Inn bid $500 for the gazebo-like structure they plan to use at the hotel under construction on Flagler Avenue.
The estimated cost of the Flagler Avenue Boardwalk Park project (including design and construction) is $1.3 million and is funded jointly by the city of New Smyrna Beach and the county through the City's CRA, he said.
"This is an excellent use of CRA funds," Mr. Otte said. "The adjacent beach access is one of the busiest in the county, and the need for this project was highlighted in the CRA Master Plan Update available on the city's website, http://www.cityofnsb.com/."
The new restroom building uses the design concept from the restrooms at the park on A1A and 27th Street and has 10 restroom "rooms," he said.
"These are perfect for families with young children. There was a porta-potty located on the west side of the former restroom building that was handicapped-accessible. The new building eliminates the need for that porta-potty."
And there's more parking available.
Mr. Otte said, parking is "a City Commission priority."
"The new parking lot has room for 120 vehicles. It's difficult to say how many vehicles could park in the old parking lot, since it was completely open and people parked somewhat haphazardly. The new curbs organize the parking."
The City Commission recently established a Parking Task Force to study parking city-wide and make recommendations for solutions for the impact of weekend and holiday parking crowds, among other things.
Residents may apply to serve on the Parking Task Force by accessing the application on the city's website. Members will be appointed by the City Commission.
The Parking Task Force will have the benefit of starting with the Parking Initiatives study completed by city staff last year, Mr. Otte said.
The Hampton Inn developers submitted the only bid for the pavilion top from the Flagler Boardwalk.
"We hope to use it in our courtyard as a centerpiece of the garden. We would also place a plaque that gives a bit of history of the piece and where it came from," David Swentor, partner with Premiere Development Group, the developers of Hampton Inn, said.
"We purchased the gazebo because we wanted to preserve this valuable part of the New Smyrna Beach experience."
Mr. Swentor's family has been in the city since the 1940s.
"I recall a few refurbishments of the Flagler boardwalk and I love the older style of the pavilions. I remember folks getting married in them and people taking pictures of their families at the beach."