Not just a park

Over the years I’ve cycled through St. Augustine’s Davis Shores neighborhood countless times. It is a convenient way to get from Old Town to Anastasia State Park (my favorite place to camp in all of Florida) without having to navigate traffic-choked A1A.

Davis Shores is a charming, even eclectic mix of modest homes and expensive mini-mansions clustered hard up against the marshes that buffer the neighborhood from the Matanzas River.

But buffers don’t always perform as desired.

When I rode through the neighborhood in the winter of 2016, Davis Shores was anything but charming. The entire neighborhood had been inundated by Hurricane Matthew, and virtually every house had work crews doing restorations and piles of sodden possessions awaiting disposal.

When I rode through the neighborhood last week I saw something quite remarkable. A charming park where none had been before…no doubt for the simple reason that land in the neighborhood had always been deemed too valuable not to build on. Some entrepreneur could undoubtedly have squeezed three or four McMansions onto that lot with its beautiful river view.

On closer examination I saw that Coquina Park wasn’t just a park at all. It was in fact a small slice of natural flood insurance in a neighborhood that had well and truly learned the value of insurance in any form.

All of that plus a park. Sometimes you just have to give nature its own, um, breathing space and hope for the best.

Because one thing we’ve learned is that nature will invariably have its way, despite our best engineered efforts to make it behave itself.

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