By Steve Plunkett
The boardwalk at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, closed since February 2015 after engineers warned it was near collapse, should be reopening this month.
The Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District approved a $45,500 last-minute change in construction plans earlier in the month to connect the first phase of the new boardwalk to the nature center’s main building. Otherwise, visitors would have had to exit the building and walk around to stairs near the parking lot.
Briann Harms, the district’s assistant director, said work should be finished in November, “hopefully by Thanksgiving.”
The city has taken over management of the project and will oversee a second and third phase of construction. That work has not been put out to bid yet.
Beach & Park Commissioner Dennis Frisch said he has heard complaints about ambient light reflecting off the glass of the big display tanks on the other side of the building.
“I assume it’s reflected to keep the water cool enough so that we’re not cooking fish, but if there is a way we can put some kind of screen maybe behind it — it’s just something to look at to see if it’s truly a problem,” Frisch said at the district’s Oct. 5 meeting.
Jim Miller, president of the Friends of Gumbo Limbo, agreed there was a problem and said changes are being made.
“The original design, they put the lighting inside the tanks, and it’s not really what it should have been. You find surprises as you go,” Miller said.
His group already has altered the lighting on one floor, he said. “And we’ve got the money and project all lined up; we’ve already placed some orders to put new lighting on the other three tanks.”
The Friends also are ready to install exhibits around the tanks that will cut the reflections, Miller said.