By Steve Plunkett
Boaters will have more spaces to park trailers under the latest plan for new launch sites at Rutherford Park.
City consultant Applied Technology and Management Inc. says the park can provide parking for 67 boat trailers as well as seven vehicles without trailers. Its plan also calls for three boat wash-down areas.
“I’ve been a big advocate … of having an ice machine at Silver Palm Park. … Do you have any experience with providing any of those?” Mayor Susan Haynie asked at a January City Council workshop.
Coastal engineer Mike Jenkins of ATM said the ice machine could go outside a restroom building he proposed for the trailer lot.
The extra boat spaces would take over the northern half of Rutherford’s parking lots. They would complement two double boat launches Boca Raton proposed for city residents only in a central area of Rutherford Park. A 450-foot channel would lead from the boat launches to the Intracoastal Waterway’s main channel.
Because a truck towing a boat needs room to maneuver, Jenkins added a turnaround area at the north end of the lot. The plan also includes restoring the park’s boardwalk and 0.6 mile of its canoe trail, which has been overgrown with mangrove roots for years.
“This used to be a jewel, and it’s no longer there,” Jenkins said.
The 2,000-foot boardwalk would cross the canoe trail in five locations, he said, and have spurs leading to the waterfront. A drawback to both Rutherford and neighboring Lake Wyman Park is the plant life blocking views of the Intracoastal, Jenkins said.
“The parks have extensive frontage on the water, but if you go to the parks, you’d likely not notice that. There is no access to that water currently,” he said.
Jenkins said the canoe trail would be a “major” feature.
“That is something worth going to kayak for a day,” he said. “It would be a true enhancement.”
Gone from the plan is a paved walkway around a large spoil island at the south end of Lake Wyman that neighbors in Golden Harbour protested. Instead, the island will be ringed by an unpaved path and have a pavilion at the east edge, closest to the Intracoastal.
That suited outspoken Golden Harbour critic Steve Reiss, whose home backs up to Lake Wyman Park.
“I just want to say thank you. You guys have been listening to our community,” he said.
There will also be a new pavilion at the north end of Rutherford Park’s boardwalk, a third pavilion and two shade structures. Jenkins said the old canoe livery building was still usable.
Jennifer Bistyga, the city’s coastal program manager, said work on the boat launches and canoe trail would begin in late 2019 or early 2020.
ATM will next reach out to the boating community to gauge its concerns. Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers said every city resident who has a launch permit at Silver Palm Park should be contacted.
Silver Palm, which is jointly owned by Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, frequently fills up on weekends and holidays. It has one double-launch ramp; any county resident can buy a permit.
The ramps at Rutherford will be less steep, Jenkins said.