|Posted by Anne Siren on February 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM|
By Judy Wilson
Deerfield Beach – A 170-foot dock at Deerfield Island Park has been ready for boaters since November but remains closed under orders from the county fire marshal. Broward County Parks and Recreation Director Dan West said the issue is a fire suppression system not included on the original plans. The system could cost as much as $200,000, about half of what the dock cost to build.
When the project began back in 2011, funded by the Broward Boating Improvement Program and the Florida Inland Navigational District, plans were approved by the Deerfield Beach Fire Department. When the city contracted its fire/rescue service to the county, a new set of requirements were imposed on the project, namely a pumping system that will protect not only the dock, but a house on the island and some outbuildings.
The county has hired a consultant to draw up a revised plan and the cost being estimated is between $100,000 and $200,000. The additional expense will be paid by the county, West said.
West is resigned to adding the system, acknowledging that it will be safer for the wildlife officer that lives there, but adding it probably won’t be effective on the dock since only firefighters can operate it and they have to be transported to the island by boat.”By the time they got there it would probably be too late,” he observed this week.
Dan Yaffe, chair of the county’s Marine Advisory Committee, has less patience with the situation. “The dock is concrete and aluminum,” he pointed out.”There is no fuel pump, no overnight stays. It is intended for people to tie up small boats for a few hours, enjoy the island and move on.”
The dock is a boater’s only access to the wildlife and mangrove preserve. Located in the Intracoastal Waterway at the Hillsboro Canal across from Sullivan Park, the 53-acre sanctuary has nature trails, an observation platform, boardwalk, playground and picnic areas. The county does run a boat over on weekends between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and offers educational expeditions October through May.
Yaffe said if the fire system must be installed it could be another year before boaters can enjoy the natural terrain. One obstacle encountered during construction was a coral outcropping that had to be removed, but which has given boaters more navigable water he said.
Yaffe points out funds for the Broward Boating Improvement Program come from vessel registration fees, not from ad valorem taxes. “My agency has satisfied the terms of the contract,” he added, inferring it is now up to the county to compete the job.
West said he would like nothing better. “We are trying to get this project done. It is such neat island.” The best he can hope for, he said this week, is that the new fire marshal BSO Capt. Bill Boss will “concede” that the original plans are okay. Boss could not be reached for comment by press time. He was not fire marshal when the fire suppression upgrade was added to the dock project.