By Steve Plunkett
The combined Wildflower-Silver Palm park won’t have access stairs on the north side of the Palmetto Park Road bridge after all.
A team from consultant EDSA Inc., which is designing the combined park, toured Deerfield Beach’s new Sullivan Park “and they have stairs. It seemed to make sense to us,” EDSA principal Kona Gray said.
“But Palm Beach County requested that we make it ADA-accessible, so that would mean either an elevator, very expensive elevator, or lots and lots of ramping.”
Boca Raton City Council members, who in November suggested adding stairs on the north side of the bridge similar to those on the south, quickly agreed that the gradual slope coming down the bridge provided enough access for people with disabilities.
Council members approved the park’s concept in November with several changes, then grew worried that their ideas were being ignored and asked Gray to provide an update May 11.
Gray thanked them for their input before showing the solutions.
“It was very good for us to have this type of feedback because for us, design only works when you have many people involved in making the process seamless,” he said.
EDSA added more parking spaces to both sides of the park and moved restrooms on the Silver Palm side farther away from the Intracoastal Waterway.
“So now we have a clear line of sight along the waterfront promenade. It’s really beautiful,” Gray said.
Roadways for vehicles towing boats were widened from 24 feet to 30 feet to ease maneuverability, and an exercise path was added from the boat ramps clockwise around the Silver Palm portion and connecting to Wildflower side under the bridge.
The designers also enlarged the pedestrian entry area at the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Palmetto Park Road.
“It will be a nice little plaza area in that space, which will incorporate seating as well as places for people to have lunch,” Gray said. “It’s very nice there; it’s extremely shaded so it’s a nice space.”
The Wildflower side now has a special play feature for children.
“This play area was not meant to be one that you would pick off the shelf. It was meant to be something more custom, more artistic,” Gray said.
The consultant said he will have final plans ready by September. The schedule then calls for obtaining permits by summer 2020 and beginning construction by fall 2020.
“Now some of you may know there’s a current project going on related to the seawall, so you will see dirt turning in early 2020,” Gray said. “That needs to happen before we can start construction on the park.”
Council members were reassured by his updates and urged Gray and city staff to do what they could to speed up construction.
“Let’s put our foot on the gas as much as we can,” Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers said.