Boca residents often say we live in Paradise, if this is true, our Pearly Gate is looking a bit neglected. East Palmetto Park Road could be making a much grander statement for visitors and residents seeking sunny activities at Boca Beachside. In short, this county road needs a facelift.
One would expect us to proudly invite visitors to explore the natural amenities on the barrier island and to stage a Boca style welcome once they cross the bridge, but sadly this is not the case. Noticeably missing are crosswalks, banners, wayfinding signs, decorative pavers, lighting and bike lanes. There is not even a sign reading, ‘This way to the beach’.
Instead we see towering concrete poles blocking sidewalks, cars crammed along the curb blocking store fronts and car doors open onto passing cars and cyclists. It is anything but a heavenly situation.
Where is Boca Beachside?
There is such a thing as ‘gilding the lily’ but in this case the lily hasn’t even been defined. So let’s be very specific about the area we call Boca Beachside.
Beachside is the section of our barrier island that can be accessed by one of three bridges – the Inlet Bridge to the south, Palmetto Park Bridge in the middle and the Spanish River Bridge to the north.
These three bridges frame the land that is home to some of the most important attractions found in anywhere in South Florida plus thousands of taxpayers living in beach condos and single family homes.
Beachside is home to Gumbo Limbo, a nature preserve and education facility attracting over 250,000 visitors each year. Also here is Red Reef Park and golf course, an ocean front executive course enticing thousands of players a year to grab their irons and work on their short game.
At Spanish River Park one finds a family friendly oasis providing ample parking for beach goers, bicyclists and picnickers’. Ocean Strand and the 40th Street beach are also part of the public greenspace.
History helps us
Boca Raton was born here on the barrier island.
The first home was built by Thomas Moore Rickards (1845-1928) in Por La Mar during the late 1800’s. Por La Mar is the neighborhood across from Silver Palm Park and also has the oldest public park shaded by ancient buttonwood trees.
A stunning example of Historic architecture from the 1920’s can be found on the north side of East Palmetto Park Road, and in the Riviera neighborhood a cluster of bungalows built during WWII are still a charming reminder of when FAU was an air force base.
A bit north in Sun and Surf, on the land that was once the old Shine property. A few remaining Mad Men homes can be found on Marble Way facing the golf course. These retro homes built in the late 50 and early 60’s were designed with an open floor plan sliding glass doors and high ceilings to capture the breeze since air conditioning was a rare commodity.
With some TLC from public and private sources East Palmetto Park Road can be an attraction as well as an access point. It is our last vestige of a beach town experience.
Investments LTD has done an admirable job updating and maintaining their commercial properties along this route, now it is time for the city and county to help enhance and preserve our pathway to Paradise.
East Palmetto walkers take to the street because of narrow sidewalks
Concrete Poles and broken sidewalks.
Family squeezes together to stay on the sidewalk.
Bikers beware – no bike lanes for them.
A little would go a long way to spruce up this section of Palmetto.