New Superintendent Has Goal Of Halting Fort’s Deterioration
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) _ Age, weather and a constant stream of tourists have taken their toll on the 300-year-old Castillo de San Marcos, the most visible reminder of the days of Spanish rule in the nation’s oldest city.
Wally Hibbard, who took over as superintendent of the fort and Fort Matanzas national monuments about three months ago, said his No. 1 priority is to try to halt the deterioration of Castillo de San Marcos.
The massive structure, constructed in the late 1600s, is built of coquina, a soft rock-like material made up of marine shells. After 300 years, it shows some severe signs of wear.
Two of the four bastions at the corners of the structure have developed large cracks and there are a number of smaller cracks along the west walls, Hibbard said.
About 18 months ago, sensitive gauges were installed to determine the movement of the walls. Information from that National Park Service study should be available in about two months, Hibbard said.
A study also is planned to determine the stability of the ground under the fort, which sits on Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine.
″By the end of February, we’ll have a more clear picture of what our next steps are,″ said Hibbard. ″It may be that we need additional studies. Obviously, you can’t start putting money in preventative measures until you know if it’s going to give you what you need.″
Hibbard, who worked in the National Park Service’s southeast regional office in Atlanta, has been busy familiarizing himself with Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas, a sister fort several miles south of St. Augustine.
Another area of concern is dune stabilization in the Fort Matanzas area to combat erosion around the monument, he said.
″It’s interesting because the cultural parks often have a great deal of natural areas in them. Because we’re there, we have become stewards of the natural area,″ Hibbard said.
The Oregon native said his post in St. Augustine is a prime assignment.
″I love walking out there (around the fort) and knowing that I’m part of that,″ Hibbard said.