A popular beach damaged by Hurricane Irma is rebuilt, reinvigorated and ready to welcome the public back.
On Friday, Aug. 23, at 11 a.m., a ribbon will be cut to celebrate the work to bring back Anne’s Beach. Located at MM 73.5, oceanside, the facility will reopen immediately to locals and visitors following the ceremony.
Anne’s Beach, named after environmentalist and Lower Matecumbe resident Anne Eaton, closed after the storm took out park infrastructure and parking. Rebuilding started in October 2018 following village council’s approval in September 2018 to go with Island Villa Construction.
The 11-month, $1.6 million project saw the installation of 1,300 feet of boardwalk, six pavilions, two parking lots and a restroom facility. Public Works Director A.J. Engelmeyer told the Weekly recently that mitigation and hardening of the parking lots, boardwalk and six pavilions were used during construction to help prevent a total loss as experienced with Irma.
“Irma completely destroyed the boardwalk and pavilions at Anne’s Beach,” Engelmeyer said. “The parking lots experienced erosion and major damage caused by storm surge in the bathrooms. The facilities at Anne’s Beach will be in a similar layout as pre-Irma but much nicer and more resilient.”
With the project nearing completion, locals and guests will be sure to check out Anne’s Beach with its new boardwalk and pavilions along the oceanfront. Councilman Ken Davis said Anne’s Beach is a focal point of the community.
“It’s a place everybody gets to enjoy,” he said. “It’s been a great loss since Irma, and it’s darn close to two years on the date, so it’ll be exciting to see it back. The boardwalk is very nice and I look forward to the reopening.”
Mayor Deb Gillis said construction crews have done a great job in putting back together a place that was severely damaged.
“It’s one of few public beaches around. It’s definitely important to the community to have it open again,” she said. “It’s a beautiful place that many of our foreign, overseas visitors like to stop by and see the water.”
Islamorada Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Hull said she’s thrilled to see the progress made since Irma destroyed the area.
“It’s been two years and everyone is looking forward to it,” she said.
Parking will be limited, and carpooling is suggested for the ceremony. Park at the south entrance and along the U.S. 1 right-of-way near the entrance. Sheriff’s officers will be present to assist with safety of those parking on U.S. 1. The north parking lot at the beach remains under construction, with completion slated for sometime in late September and early October.