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Upgrades ahead for historic Jones Pier

Photo: Historic Jones Pier

Construction is set to begin in spring 2019 on two long-awaited projects designed to improve recreational access to scenic and historic preserves on the barrier island’s lagoon shoreline.

The Indian River County Commission last week executed a cost-sharing agreement with the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) to fund $260,000 worth of improvements to the historic Jones Pier Conservation Area on Jungle Trail adjacent to Indian River Shores, plus another $281,700 to open the Oyster Bar Marsh Conservation Area – located a short distance north of Round Island Park – to the public.

Both projects are expected to be completed in 2020, according to Beth Powell, the county's conservation lands manager.

Anglers currently fish from the renovated Jones Pier docks, which were first constructed by the pioneer Seaborn Jones family in 1907 to facilitate shipping their farm produce by water. Now the historic family homestead and fruit stand are slated for restoration and, after that, expected to display museum exhibits, according to Powell.

Other improvements to the 16.5-acre Jones Pier site will include construction of a five-acre saltwater wetland designed to draw water from the lagoon and filter out nitrogen and phosphorus before sending the treated water back to the estuary. A one-mile path will run around the perimeter, with boardwalks extending into the marsh. 

"We want to go beyond public access," Powell said. "We want to tell the Jones story.  People are going to be captivated by the site. To have them immersed in these issues, it's very exciting."

As for Oyster Bar Marsh – a 96-acre mosquito impoundment and upland hammock run jointly by the county and the Indian River Land Trust – the county will oversee construction of a 1.3-mile hiking/biking trail leading to the lagoon from a new parking area and entrance road along SR A1A.

The Land Trust will be in charge of landscaping – getting rid of exotic vegetation and planting native species.