On Tuesday, May 17, 2016 a few people met at Rum Island Park to discuss the traffic and use problems which are of a growing concern. Over the past few years the popularity of the park has increased exponentially, along with the growth of the recreational kayak and canoe activity in our area.
The people in attendance included Mr. Kevin Kirby, Assistant County Manager and his assistant Justin, Doug Jipson of Rum 138, Jim Wood of Santa Fe Canoe Outpost, and Brack Barker of Wild Florida Adventures, representing commercial interests, local Paul Siegal and your OSFR historian.
OSFR is interested since the heavy use falls under the stewardship area of our mission. Suggestions were made as to solutions, and ranged from principally removing the wooden fence on the immediate river side north of the boat ramp, and along the north side of the ramp itself.
This removal would allow kayaks and canoes to be off-loaded and carried to the access point, avoiding congestion along the ramp itself. The fence there is an impediment which causes bottle-necking at the point of entering the boat ramp. This, in itself, results in a long wait line to enter and exit the opening of the boat ramp.
A second solution might be digging a small boat ramp a few yards north of the present one, to be used for hand launching kayaks and canoes only, thus freeing up the concrete pad for power boats who must back trailers down the ramp.
Mr. Kirby was open to discussion but very cautious in making commitments, pointing out that the county must follow strict procedures when changing traffic patterns. He also underscored the high cost of adding more pavement. He was also quick to explain that the county must tread carefully into the “gray area” of spending tax dollars for what might be considered special aid to commercial kayak and canoe rental companies.
What Mr. Kirby did commit to was to carefully look in to the matter and to try to take some action that would address the problem. He is from this area and is familiar with the problem and situation.