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Castillo de San Marco seeks public input on plan to raise and rehabilitate the fort’s seawalls

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The National Park Service (NPS) has announced a multimillion-dollar project to raise and rehabilitate the seawalls at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. This initiative, funded by the 2023 Disaster Supplement bill, aims to repair storm damage, enhance resilience, improve visitor safety, and protect natural and cultural resources.

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Public comments on the project are invited from June 17 to July 17.

“We have a unique opportunity to build community resilience to coastal storms. Funding levels of this magnitude are rare,” said Gordie Wilson, Superintendent of Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. “This plan will evaluate options for replacing critical centuries-old infrastructure that is failing. Strengthening our seawall will ensure the safety of visitors to our park and our city, while maintaining the cultural integrity of the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States.”

The current seawalls are in fair to poor condition. Raising and repairing them aims to protect the park’s historic resources and enhance flood prevention and resiliency for St. Augustine and its historic downtown.

Starting June 17, the public can access a project newsletter and submit comments on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website HERE. Comments can also be mailed to Superintendent Gordie Wilson, Raise and Rehabilitate Seawall Project, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, 1 South Castillo Drive, St Augustine, FL 32084. Mailed comments must be postmarked by July 17.

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 25, at 6:00 p.m. at the Renaissance St. Augustine – Historic Downtown Hotel, located at 6 West Castillo in downtown St. Augustine, opposite the City Parking Facility.

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As required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the NPS will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) to evaluate the likely environmental consequences of the proposed action. The EA is expected to be released in Winter 2024. The public is encouraged to review the newsletter and provide feedback on the proposed project.

The 2023 omnibus funding bill allocated $1.5 billion in supplemental disaster funding to the NPS to repair and rebuild ecosystems, infrastructure, and historically significant structures affected by natural disasters. This funding also aims to enhance the resiliency of national park sites and communities.

Castillo de San Marcos, a unit of the National Park Service, has stood for over 350 years and is a vital part of St. Augustine’s history. Built by the Spanish to defend Florida and the Atlantic trade route, it is the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States, reflecting over 450 years of cultural intersections. More information about its history is available HERE.

For updates, visit Castillo de San Marcos National Monument online or follow the park on Facebook and Instagram.

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William Clayton

William Clayton, Action News Jax

Digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax

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