Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hanna Park Manager Works on Consistency in Enforcing Rules

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hanna Park Manager Works on Consistency in Enforcing Rules

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Longenecker

"I have a lot of good memories of this area from growing up here and surfing," said Ken Berk, the new the Hanna Park manager.

"It's very rare to have this mature coastal hammock left anywhere," said Berk, who grew up on the Southside and graduated from Bolles and the University of Florida. He earned a master's degree in ecological and biological geography from the University of Colorado.

Berk brings an extensive background to his job. He has been the director of the Guana Reserve. He has spent time in research and education with the East Coast Region Reserves and has been a liaison between state and local agencies dealing with water management and land preservation acquisition. Berk has also worked for the St. Johns River Water Management District and has been an environmental planner for Jacksonville.

Berk came to Hanna Park in April. He commutes daily on Florida A1A from St. Augustine. A major goal has been to establish consistency in how the 450-acre park is managed. There are 293 regular campsites, five cabins and a primitive site that can be used by nonprofit groups. The park offers 1.5 miles of rare, prime, natural oceanfront forest on an otherwise highly developed coastline.

"People say, 'We used to be able to do this.' There has been an uncertainty of how things were administered," Berk said "Hanna Park has a recreational campground, not a [private] RV park. Snowbirds are welcome. They may request an 'extended stay' over the normal 15 days in a 45-day period. During our winter period from Nov. 1 to the end of February, it's pretty easy to get the extension."

Extension is based on two major factors. They do not apply to choice, high-demand sites. Campers must have no past campground violations. There is a six-month limit.

Special events and usage requests must be made 30 days in advance on a city form. Alcohol-use permits such as those for weddings take longer to approve. Permits for special event usage must meet criteria. There must be no detrimental impact on the park and only limited conflict with regular activity.

"Everyone thinks they are special," Berk said. …

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