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Why is it important to protect green space?

by Jessica Gray

Preserving and protecting natural spaces has many benefits. Green spaces and land use within Florida has changed dramatically over the past 20 years due to over development negatively impacting natural ecosystems. Buildings are continuing to be built on sensitive land, including an effort to build on protected land on Boca Raton’s barrier island. With population growth, it is now more important than ever to conduct careful land use planning and management so that we can preserve and protect our allocated spaces for future generations. It is these spaces that makes Boca Raton and our quality of life so special. 

96.2% of polled residents want to see green space on the barrier island preserved

Boca Save Our Beaches Internet Poll

An open space parcel on Boca’s barrier island is one of a kind and one of the most sought-after spaces. Since the 1990’s, this 15-plus acre space, extending from the Intracoastal to the Atlantic Ocean, has been targeted by major developers to build luxury spaces. 

Regardless of the size, a single building disrupts natural processes and negatively affects the plants and animals that call it home. In addition, development on the barrier islands are in danger due to sea level rise and powerful storms pulling low lying areas under water. 

Boca’s Ocean Strand Property is a Prime Target

Ocean Strand, after being acquired for $11.88 million by the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Parks District in 1994, is a lush, green asset. Originally preserved for a park or an addition to Gumbo Limbo, developers have had their eyes on the prize for over 20 years, stirring up controversy: developers see opportunity – residents see public green space. While the District owns the property, presently the District does not have the authority to sell it according to their existing rules.

ocean strand property appraiser
Palm Beach County property appraiser data for Ocean Strand

As residents of Boca Raton, we may have disagreements – some people want condos, some people don’t like traffic, some people want golf, some people don’t like Mizner Park – the list goes on and on. However, one agreement that continually comes up is preserving our open space. For example, on March 13th, 2019, Boca Save our Beaches asked:

Do you think the City of Boca Raton Residents should allow their public land (on the barrier island) to be sold and turned into another hotel?

350 people out of the surveyed 364 answered, “No – PROTECT OUR PUBLIC LAND!” That is 96.2% of polled residents want to see green space on the barrier island preserved.

Everyone Benefits from Green Space

In order to take Ocean Strand off of the books as far as commercialization goes, it needs to be turned into a quiet, passive green park for tax paying residents to enjoy. We have a great thing here in Boca Raton, let’s make it better together. You can contact your Beach and Park District representatives from their website or using the information below.

Greater Beach and Parks Commissioners:

Susan Vogelgesang – svogelgesang@mybocaparks.org
Robert Rollins – rrollins@mybocaparks.org
Craig Ehrnst – ehrnst@mybocaparks.org
Erin Wright – ewright@mybocaparks.org
Steve Engle sengel@mybocaparks.org

UPDATE 10-12-19: Commercialization of Ocean Strand is prohibited by Ordinance 5228.

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