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Council backs creation of beach at Four Freedoms Park

By Staff | Jun 20, 2011

City Council approved constructing a beach at Four Freedoms Park Monday. Valued at just under $42,000, the beach project was identified as part of the CRA’s newly designed vision plan, and represents the first of what the downtown group hopes are many changes on the horizon for the district.
The beach did spur concern from some council members.
Spending that amount of money for that particular project gave Chris Chulakes-Leetz pause — not against the project, he did say the timing could be different and the money could represent someone’s job down the road.
“This is not a project that has to be done forthwith … spending that amount of money I don’t think is prudent in this economy,” Chris Chulakes-Leetz said.
Mayor John Sullivan said he needed some heavy duty assurance that the water was safe for swimmers before he gave his endorsement.
“I wouldn’t be happy unless we had four to five years of water testing,” he said.
CRA Chairman Don Heisler told council the money was coming from the CRA coffers and not the city’s.
Heisler said the beach could become a new attraction in the district and help neighboring businesses.
“It will enhance the neighborhood … this is a cumulative effort to bring people to the CRA district,” he said.
The CRA hired famed planner Bernard Zyscovich last year to design the new vision plan, which includes the Four Freedoms Beach. There are other, more ambitious pieces of the plan, including a greenway and connecting the Rubican Canal to the Bimini Basin.
But the beach portion of the vision plan represented something more cost efficient and easier to achieve, and gives the district another, almost immediate, attraction.
“The biggest advantage is it extends the activity of our CRA to its western edge,” said Councilmember Kevin McGrail.
City Council approved the funding 6-2, with Sullivan and Chulakes-Leetz dissenting.