Plans for Beach Access in NSB
By Mimi McKee
Volusia County council has unanimously agreed to open every beach approach possible county-wide. The goal is to allow greater access and reduce vehicular congestion and back-up. This vote includes seven approaches north of Dunlawton Avenue and one approach to the south, at 16th Avenue, in the city of New Smyrna Beach (NSB).
“Surely a case can be made for the need for more access with all of the new housing permits being issued,” stated Deb Denys, Volusia County Vice Chair for District 3. “Opening up 16th Avenue in NSB as a beach approach would redirect traffic from already congested areas and allow easier access for locals.”
Many NSB locals disagree. Residents believe improvements to parking and traffic mapping at the busiest ramps should take priority over opening new ones. Long time citizens have noticed that visitors’ priorities have changed. In the past, driving north to the infamous surf break at the inlet was the most popular destination. These days, the most appealing destination has shifted to central beachside at the Flagler Avenue and Third Avenue ramps. Visitors conveniently park, spend time on the beach, then walk to shopping and dining.
Volusia enforces “entry only” hours utilizing both sides of the ramps, starting at 8 a.m. on weekends and holidays, for Flagler Avenue and Third Avenue. Vehicles will have to exit using another ramp. These beach approaches are also the first to offer annual pass sales at the base of the ramp versus at the toll booth.
Another solution is to make some of the ramps a “passholders only” ramp. Vehicles with annual passes would only be able to access these ramps, not daily or new visitors. The Crawford Road approach in NSB became a passholders only ramp as of Friday, March 30, 2018. There will be no financial services provided there. Plans for the 16th Avenue ramp call for a “passholders only” access. Beachway Avenue, Flagler Avenue, Third Avenue and 27th Avenue will remain accessible to all vehicles.
The opening of the ramp at 16th Avenue has been put on hold after NSB residents showed up to a city commission meeting opposing the idea. Citizens voiced their concerns that the ramp is not the best solution to the issue, increased traffic will affect nearby property values and dense traffic along South Atlantic Avenue will make it hard for residents to run simple errands, get home or access the beach and parks.
“Volusia County stands ready to partner with New Smyrna Beach should a decision be made to pursue opening up another beach approach to increase access,” said Denys. “Pending favorable feedback from both the New Smyrna Beach City Commission and a public meeting – to be determined – construction funding would be allocated.”
Improvements to the 27th Avenue beach ramp in NSB are in the very near future. The approach will be rebuilt to address fluctuating sand issues, storm response, emergency issues and to allow for easier more consistent access for patrons. During this time, access will be minimal or lacking at best.