The town has halted engineering and grant-seeking plans for water taxi docks at Sawfish Bay Park and Lighthouse Park after receiving pushback from its residents, according to Vice Mayor Ron Delaney.
“As of now it’s been stopped,” Delaney told The Palm Beach Post this week. “The town council can revisit it at a later date and time.”
Stephanie Thoburn, Jupiter’s assistant director of planning and zoning, who presented the dock proposal to the council last month also confirmed that she stopped working on the project.
“If the public isn’t interested in the docks, I will focus my energy on other projects,” said Thoburn.
Last month, the secluded 2.5 acres along the Intracoastal Waterway become the center of controversy after the proposal was made. Residents felt their serene park where kayakers and paddleboarders launch would become unsafe because of more boats passing through. The town disagreed and said it was looking to link Jupiter’s historic points with water taxis.
After the council approved the project on June 18, Alex Cotleur created a Facebook page, Save Sawfish Bay- Say NO to the public docks proposed, to try and stop the project. And, it appears to have worked for now.
“You think you’re watching and the one moment you look away something like this is going on,” Cotleur, 44, of Jupiter, said about the council approving the proposed docks.
The page, which has more than 250 members, allowed residents to rally together behind the issue, while getting information about the project’s status.
“If it was just me sending an email by myself it would just be me complaining,” said Cotleur about why she created the group. “So I took it public and made it everyone’s problem.”
The residents’ disapproval was heard by the council, said Delaney. Councilman Wayne Posner said he received a couple dozen emails about the docks, which was a lot compared to normal email traffic.
“I was a little surprised by the pushback from the residents,” said Delaney. “We didn’t realize how sensitive that spot was for the paddleboarders and kayakers.”
Cheryl Schneider, who shared her concerns about the docks when it was first presented to the council, said this week that she is happy about the progress.
“I think it’s great the town is basically pausing this project,” said Schnieder. “I think they finally heard us.”
Delaney and Thoburn said the project was never a secret and the reason why it came up on the June council meeting was because it was the next step in the plan.
Thoburn said she can apply only once a year to Florida Inland Navigation District for grant money, which was needed to build the docks and needed council’s approval to move forward with the project.
The proposed docks made the Florida Inland Navigation’s short list to receive funding, but because the town has halted the project, the money will be given to someone else.
“We can always revisit this project in the future after there are more discussions,” said Thoburn, whose new goal is to restore the historic Aicher House that sits at Sawfish Bay Park.
“If the residents don’t want the docks, that’s fine,” said Thoburn. “But let’s work together on a different project.”