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- 2014 - May - 1st -
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Exchange Island near the Mathews Bridge, designated as a city park, could add amenities soon. It is open to the public from sunrise to sunset daily but will be closed during construction.

Exchange Island to add dock, two pavilions

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Exchange Club Island, land accessible by boat under the Mathews Bridge, is in design for amenities to shore up its designation as a city park.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing an application to develop amenities on the southeast side of Exchange Island to include a 60-foot floating dock, a 105-foot metal gangway, 236 linear feet of a 6-foot sidewalk and two 12-by-12 pavilions.

There will be no utilities.

The project, under the purview of the city Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, also will have a shoreline kayak launch.

Site plans show two berthing areas along the floating dock and the gangway onto the island with a walkway to the separate pavilions.

The plans were filed Monday. HDR Engineering Inc. is the project engineer.

Parks spokeswoman Pam Roman said construction is contingent on grant funding. She expects design completion in the fall and construction to be completed in late 2015.

She said the pavilion locations, within the southern part of the island, will be determined in the design and permitting process.

Roman said by email that the city received a Florida Inland Navigation District grant of $57,880 toward the $115,760 design cost of the project. The city does a match.

She said the estimated cost for construction of the facilities is $226,500 and the city would apply for a grant in the 2014 FIND grant cycle to cover part of the project cost. The city is responsible for the remainder.

The property is zoned as a city park and is used by visitors to the island who reach it by private, noncommercial, recreational watercraft, she said.

The park is open sunrise to sunset, but will be closed to the public during construction.

Asked if there is a designated riverfront launch point to the island, she said there wasn’t, but there are several launch sites that include a boat ramp at Arlington Road, the Arlington Lions Club and River City Brewing Co.

She said there also are kayak/canoe launch sites on both sides of the river and nearby tributaries within easy paddling distance.

The coj.net website says the 33.4-acre undeveloped island, with an address of 5020 Arlington Expressway, was dedicated to Duval County on Oct. 8, 1956, by the trustees of the state Internal Improvement Fund for use and development as a public park.

The island averages about 350 feet in width and 2,400 feet in length.

Roman said the island was named “Exchange Club Island” by the state of Florida when it was given to Duval County. The Exchange Club was historically involved in the development and upkeep of the island, she said. Before the transfer, it was called Mud Island.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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