Volusia Countys newest beach access point may be the ugliest
The temporary beach access path on the north end of the Protogroup hotel and condominium project is more like a path through a construction site. And it’s not baby carriage friendly.
Sometimes, you can’t “know” unless you “do.”
That’s why, on Thursday, I found myself pushing a baby carriage along Volusia County’s newest beach access point.
It’s nearly impossible to name the nicest public beach access point in the area.
Personally, I like Andy Romano Park in Ormond Beach. But there are dozens of nice approaches and other access points where one can drive or walk onto our beautiful beaches, from the Amsden Approach in Ormond Beach to Bethune Park in New Smyrna Beach.
But the ugliest access point to the beach may be the newest one. It opened about a week-and-a-half ago on the very north end of the Protogroup hotel and condominium project under construction in Daytona Beach at the intersection of State Road A1A and Oakridge Boulevard.
That access point consists of a sandy path carved between two chain link fences. Signs wired to the fence along A1A tell you it’s a “beach access surface.” The south side of the path offers a view through the fence of the stalled construction of the project’s north tower. Another sign says it’s a “hard hat area.” The path doesn’t feel like a walk to the beach; it feels like a walk along a construction project.
People who have been following the massive Protogroup project may already have questions about it.
Like, when will the largely constructed 27-story hotel/condo tower on the south end of the property actually be finished and open for business? And when it does open, will it be a brand name hotel?
Or, when will the even-taller north tower actually begin vertical construction? The original plans call for the north tower to have 31 stories and be 381 feet high. It would the tallest building in Volusia County. But after pouring some concrete pilings, construction on the north tower has been stalled for months. The rebar sticking out of the top of the pilings is slowly rusting. The last word is that the north tower is being redesigned. But what does that mean? And when will work start again?
Alexy Lysich is vice president of Protogroup Inc., a Palm Coast company whose Russian owners are developing the property. In recent weeks, The News-Journal hasn’t been able to reach Lysich.
The new beach access point on the Protogroup site opened at the behest of the city of Daytona Beach. An approach at Oakridge Boulevard had closed when work on the south tower began. Because work has stopped on the north tower, the city requested that Protogroup put in a temporary beach access point.
I drive by the Protogroup project often and am interested in its progress. So I noticed the new beach access point the day it opened. But what really caught my eye is the sign on the front of it, which shows a person pushing a baby carriage, and another person in a wheelchair. The sign strongly suggests the access point is baby carriage and wheelchair accessible.
Always in search of a new way to tell a story, I bought a used baby carriage. With the help of Deputy Managing Editor Dave Wersinger, we loaded the carriage with about 35 pounds of newspaper and printer paper — the approximate weight of a 3-year-old child and some beach stuff. Then I attempted to push it down the new beach access point.
It was slow going. The baby carriage’s wheels kept bogging down in the sand. In the end, I pushed the baby carriage down the path. But it wasn’t easy.
Then, at the end of the access path near the beach, there are four wooden steps to traverse upwards, and then 11 wooden steps downward to the beach. Two people could carry the baby carriage up and down the steps. But it’s doubtful any wheelchair could make it.
A recommendation: Protogroup, or someone, ought to change the beach access sign.
And anyone with a baby carriage or a wheelchair looking for better beach access should travel 150 yards north to the smooth concrete of the Plaza Hotel approach. You’re welcome.