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On Thursday, November 21, the state of Florida took possession of the 57-acre property referred to as Fish Island. The successful acquisition of this conservation land would not have been possible if not for the dedication and hard work of countless state and local individual participants, community groups, elected officials, and the community at large. The City of St. Augustine appreciates the tireless efforts of everyone involved, on every level of the process, including Senator Rob Bradley, Jim Young, and Sid Ansbacher, working with the Division of State Lands, North Florida Land Trust and the city. Also, the Friends of Fish Island, the Matanzas Riverkeeper, the St. Augustine City Commission, and the people of St. Augustine who supported this project ultimately saved this land from development.
As a result of this purchase and included in the terms of the sale, the City of St. Augustine will oversee the maintenance and management of the property; however, it will be several months before it opens to the public. As the owner of record for the conservation lands, the state of Florida will execute a lease with the City of St. Augustine. The city will have one year to complete an approved management plan that will outline the future improvements on the property over the next 10 years. The plan will include management and protection of the natural and cultural resources of this passive recreational park, as well as a conceptual site plan depicting site improvements such as a small parking area, walking trails, and interpretive signage.
The development of the management plan will include multiple public meetings for community input. Additionally, as part of preparing the park land for public use, there will be community clean-up days scheduled where the public will be invited to participate in removing any remaining trash and debris, in particular tidal trash washed in from the high tides of the Matanzas River.
In the early part of next year, there will be an on-site community celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the official opening of the park that will include guided walks on site.