The St. Augustine seawall — ending a years-long renovation — will be dedicated next month.
A public ceremony is set for 3 p.m. Feb. 7, said Paul Williamson, the city’s director of public affairs.
“We’re still working on what exactly will happen that day,” Williamson said. “We won’t know details until the middle of next week.”
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-St. Augustine) and St. Johns County’s former congressman, U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-Deltona) have been invited.
Mica was instrumental in securing a $4.7 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the flood mitigation project. The city contributed a $1.6 million match.
The 1,100-foot seawall will open to the public this month after handrails are installed, landscaping completed and finishing touches are made.
The dedication on Feb. 7 will be the official recognition of the project’s completion, Williamson said.
The original granite and coquina seawall along Avenida Menendez was built between 1837 and 1846, overseen by three U.S. Army officers who had graduated from the new military academy of West Point.
They were 1st Lt. Stephen Tuttle, Capt. Francis L. Dancy and 1st Lt. Henry R. Bentham.
Tuttle is buried in the St. Augustine National Cemetery.
That 1846 wall replaced a coquina wall that the Spanish built in 1696 and another that was torn down in 1837.
Over the past 50 years, the coquina — capped by the heavy granite — deteriorated. Sea water frequently flooded the Bayfront during full-moon high tides and storms.
Hurricane Floyd in 1999 caused damage, and perhaps as a result, parts collapsed in 2001 during Tropical Storm Gabrielle.
The current project began in 2005, but three years passed before it was approved by the city’s Historic Architectural Review Board.
Its completion date was originally predicted to be April 2013.
The new wall was built 13 feet out into the Matanzas River, leaving the 1846 wall intact but protected. (article via www.staugustine.com)