Funding for boardwalk Ok’d

On Feb. 16, the Village of Islamorada and the Tourist Development Council reached a grant agreement to fund the first phase of the Anne’s Beach Boardwalk Replacement Project. After evaluating the condition of the boardwalk, the village deemed the deteriorated path needed replacing. According to Islamorada Public Works Director, AJ Engelmeyer, 20 percent of the boardwalk has been out of commission for roughly a year.

The boardwalk was renovated in 2010, when the village contracted with Millennium 2000 Construction Corp. to replace aging handrails and weathered decking. The first phase of the present-day project would demolish the current boardwalk, construct a new one, and pay for the engineering inspection services.

The replacement project’s total cost was budgeted at $1.2 million, but is estimated not to exceed $600,000. The proposed grant agreement allows for the development council to reimburse the village for 50 percent of the project costs, up to $300,000. In the coming weeks, the village is preparing to field requests for proposals from contractors and developers.

“The second phase is expected in the spring,” said Englemeyer of the project’s next step.

Named after environmentalist and Lower Matecumbe resident Anne Eaton, the beach is one of the most popular areas that tourists are directed to, said Islamorada Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Hall.

“It’s very popular for swimming and kite boarding,” said Hall. “It also has convenient picnic facilities and is pet-friendly.”

Anne’s Beach has a historic element. Florida Keys History & Discovery Center Curator Brad Bertelli said the beach “is one of the few [natural beaches] left where people can come and put their feet in the water” and enjoy the peace and tranquility the Keys offer.

“I think it’s important, as Islamorada becomes more developed, to save areas that have been long used for public enjoyment,” said Bertelli. “The reason many come down is for the natural beauty and warm water.”

The warm shallow waters of Anne’s Beach have long welcomed tourists and locals alike. With the improvements to the boardwalk, it would be no surprise if the beach’s notoriety quickly transitioned from ‘hidden gem’ to ‘must see.’ Anne’s Beach is located at mile marker 73.5, oceanside.

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