The long-awaited beach makeover is underway this month.
Beachgoers, prepare to see construction for the next six months along a nearly 1.3 mile stretch, which will add new seating areas, lighting, showers and walkways to the city’s “Pedestrian Beach Promenade.”
“It’s going to be a major improvement,” said the city’s Director of Environmental Services John Morgan.
As construction on the new 9-foot wide sidewalks begins, officials say to expect to see limited parking at the beach. To help get people to the beach, Morgan said the city plans to dedicate an extra trolley to help shuttle people from the parking garages to and from the beach. He said the plan includes reopening stretches of parking as the work is completed.
“We are going to make a special effort to make it easy for people to get to the beach and back during the construction time,” he said.
Another change when it comes to parking is how to pay for it. Beachgoers tired of feeding the meter or running back to your car with a bag of quarters when you want to stay in the sun longer will soon have the ability to pay for their time at the beach with a credit card. Part of the update includes removing the old parking meters and updating them with smart meters.
The beach area surface parking lots will also receive new smart meters as well as the area between the beach and the bridge on East Atlantic Avenue. Those meters are not part of the overall beach master plan, but those areas will receive the upgraded meters at the same time.
In addition to wider sidewalks to create the pedestrian promenade, the plan involves adding new gazebos, bicycle racks, surf board racks, more seating areas and new showers with designated areas for dogs to quench their thirst while on a walk.
The city has set aside $3 million to complete the project, which many say is long overdue. City officials say the trash cans haven’t been replaced in 20 years and the showers are even older, leaving them unreliable when it comes to draining.
Over the years, beach property owners have taken renovations into their own hands by raising money to replace the beach pavilion at A1A and Atlantic Avenue that was rotting and decaying. Two new gazebos that are a part of the new plan will be paid in part with a $40,000 donation from the beach property owners.
The city is also focusing on its dune system, which protects the beach and the city during storms. The sea grapes, an invasive species, recently received a hair cut in order to protect the dune system.
City officials said they will be planting a variety of species to help keep the dune healthy.
During the construction, the beach will remain open. Morgan said there will be safe pathways that allow people to access the beach.
People who have purchased benches or have plaques along the stretch will see their dedications moved to brick pavers near the flag pole. Morgan said the city will have a program that allows people to purchase an engraved brick.
The project includes making the beach area more user-friendly to people who use wheelchairs. He said there are plans to install a handicap-accessible mat near the pavilion. The pavilion will also receive a minor modification to add another entrance.
For more information on the plan and timeline of construction, visit the city’s website mydelraybeach.com