Jacksonville’s Huguenot Memorial Park temporarily closed due to high tide damage
Huguenot Memorial Park's main roadway has been closed several times due to tidal damage. Photo via Drew Dixon.

Huguenot park draws thousands of visitors on weekends from North Florida and South Georgia.

If you’re in Northeast Florida, check your travel plans. An important regional recreational draw on Florida’s First Coast has been temporarily knocked out of commission due to high tides and damage to a roadway.

Huguenot Memorial Park, located at 10980 Heckscher Drive in Jacksonville, has been temporarily closed due to high tides that have damaged one of the main roads entering the facility. Jacksonville officials closed the city park Thursday because the entrance road eroded into the St. Johns River. The park was also closed Friday.

“There is damage to the entry road at Huguenot Memorial Park. Therefore, we have temporarily closed the park. Our goal is to get the park back open at least on a limited basis by this weekend,” said Phil Perry, chief communications officer for the city of Jacksonville.

Huguenot Memorial Park is a major draw for beachgoers from throughout the North Florida and South Georgia region. The park is at the mouth to the St. Johns River on the north side of the jetties that augment commercial shipping and recreational boating to pass into the interior of North Florida and exit into the Atlantic Ocean.

Depending on the time of the year, it’s estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles enter Huguenot Park each weekend. The park, directly across the St. Johns River from Mayport Naval Station to the south, is the last beach that allows driving on the shoreline which is dotted with sand dunes and no buildings are on the coastal area of the park.

The main access road has long been an issue at the park since it runs parallel to the river before it crosses onto the oceanfront.

“Electrical infrastructure had to be relocated and the roadway was impassable forcing closure of the park.  A temporary road is being constructed to allow the park to open for day users starting Saturday June 22nd at 2 p.m.  We will be updating the potential to reopen the camping facilities next week,” Perry said, noting the park has dozens of camping spots for tents and recreational vehicle campers.

The effects from hurricanes in 2016 and 2017 heavily damaged the main entry roadway for the park and city officials have had to provide constant upgrades and revisions since. There have been temporary closures on and off in the past several years. The astronomical high tides in recent days have caused additional damage to that entry roadway.

While the immediate remedies to the access road will help open the park for the weekend, Perry said the city is aiming for  a more permanent solution in order to avoid the periodic closures in the future.

“While this is a temporary measure, park staff have been working with an engineering consultant to develop a road relocation plan for the area that has been eroding following storms and high tides have increased erosion over the past two years.  We are now working with state and federal permitting agencies a road solution to bypass the collapsed roadway,” Perry said.

Drew Dixon

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at [email protected].


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