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Beach and Park vows to A-List Ocean Strand opening

Will the controversial waterfront site Ocean Strand finally open to the public next year?

“Let’s get it moving. We want a plan for opening Ocean Strand as a park so people can use it,” Commissioner Craig Ehrnst said Monday.

Ocean Strand resurfaced at the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District’s final meeting of the year. Their next meeting is Jan. 6.

Ehrnst called for prioritizing the park and brain-storming with the community.

The 15-acre site sits on both the Intracoastal and ocean sides of A1A just north of Spanish River Park.

Ocean Strand has been a rancorous issue since the district bought it for $11.9 million in 1994. Especially after a developer offered to buy it and the district approved an appraisal that came in at $67 million.

That touched off a rumor mill that Ocean Strand was for sale. So Boca Towers and other nearby condo residents resurfaced, vowing to protect the pristine site. “We’re starting to organize to do whatever is necessary to prevent the sale,” Joe Pedalino said in April. Pedalino has long favored an all-accessible park there. 

There was also talk of using the site for overflow parking for Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. And the city included Ocean Strand in assessing all city owned waterfront sites.

But the sale issue turned out to be moot. The district’s law firm determined their charter doesn’t allow selling property.

That meant the district couldn’t raise money for the public golf course in Boca Teeca that way. The city and district are still at odds over who will build and pay for Boca National Golf Course.

And most district commissioners were adamantly opposed anyway. “I’m absolutely against it. I don’t believe in trading pristine land to expedite a golf course,” Ernst said at the time.

Now there’s money in reserves if commissioners decide to move forward, district executive director Briann Harms said after Monday’s meeting.

By Marci Shatzman

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