Boca Raton: Council agrees Wildflower plan is ready to bid

By Steve Plunkett

City Council members gave the go-ahead June 23 to seek bids to build a connected Wildflower/Silver Palm park after staff and their outside consultant trimmed $2.75 million from the plan.
Gone are a small stage and “some other tweaks” at the Wildflower site, at the northwest corner of the Palmetto Park Road bridge over the Intracoastal, city senior planner John Lindgren said.
Removed on the Silver Palm portion of the park just south of Wildflower were a fitness trail with exercise stations, a small storage building and “a few other minor tweaks as well,” Lindgren said.
Also deleted were a third of Silver Palm’s “shade sails.” But consultant Kona Gray of EDSA Inc. assured council members the site still would have “ample” protection from the sun.
“We have the whole area covered,” he said.
Council members were shocked on May 26 to hear the estimated cost of the project had ballooned to $11 million from a budgeted $8.25 million.
“Our hope is that we will be working with a contractor that is going to give us the best value at the lowest cost and not try to give us a number that is right at the top of our budget,” Gray said then.
Council member Andrea O’Rourke was “very disappointed” both with the 33% price boost and the pace of the project.
“You know how every day you get a Facebook memory pops up for you? Coincidentally or ironically, the Facebook memory that came up for me today was that I posted that the sign got put on the property that Wildflower/Silver Palm park is coming. That was one year ago today,” O’Rourke said. “I feel totally disheartened about this.”
Council members decided City Manager Leif Ahnell should cut park features to get the cost back to the budgeted $8.25 million. “We think you can get a very nice project with that money,” Ahnell promised.
The timeline to start construction of Wildflower/Silver Palm is now “January-ish,” Ahnell said at the June 23 meeting. The completion date will depend on which company wins the bid and the schedule it proposes, he said.
Construction of a new sea wall at the Wildflower parcel should begin in October or November and take six months.
Planning for Wildflower began in April 2017 when EDSA held an outreach session with city residents to develop a comprehensive waterfront park plan. Gray presented his firm’s initial ideas to the council in February 2018, held another outreach session in September 2018 and two months later showed the council plans for connecting Silver Palm Park and the Wildflower parcel.
Boca Raton bought the 2.3-acre Wildflower site for $7.5 million in 2009 and spent years negotiating to put a restaurant there. But a voter initiative in November 2017 banned commercial uses of city-owned property along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The combined Wildflower/Silver Palm park will measure 6.4 acres, Lindgren said.

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