Boca Raton: Gumbo Limbo’s new boardwalk to have ramp for disabled nature lovers

By Steve Plunkett

    Disabled people will be able to enjoy the boardwalk at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center when it reopens next spring.
    The boardwalk, which has been closed for repairs since February, will be getting a ramp to make the structure compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Mike Kroll of consultant Miller Legg and Associates, which is developing a master plan for Red Reef Park, gave the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District an update on the boardwalk project Nov. 2.
    The boardwalk’s observation tower is intact and will need only minor structural improvements, Kroll told district commissioners. He said he expects the project to be put out to bid and a contractor selected by early January, with repairs on the tower and eastern portion of the boardwalk and construction of the pedestrian ramp to take three to four months. May 1 is the target for completion, Kroll said.
    Separately, commissioners learned that short-term repairs to the pipes that bring seawater to Gumbo Limbo’s fish tanks will cost no more than $30,000.
    On the boardwalk project, workers will use the area between the Gumbo Limbo parking lot and the boardwalk as a staging area, Kroll said.
    When the first phase is finished, park patrons will also be able to access the boardwalk from the golf course parking lot. No access to the tower from State Road A1A is planned due to safety reasons and to avoid disturbing the vegetation, Kroll said.
    Repairs to the western part of the boardwalk should be finished no later than December 2016, Kroll said.
    The boardwalk was closed to the public in February after engineers said joists under the planks had “no positive means of support” and “could fail without warning.” Repairs originally were to be completed by the end of the year.
    In mid-September Miller Legg discovered electrical wiring for a call box and public address system under the planks as well as a PVC water pipe for cleaning the boardwalk. Neither was included in plans to restore the boardwalk and had to be added.
    The city of Boca Raton owns Red Reef Park and Gumbo Limbo, but the beach and park district pays for operation and maintenance of the facilities.

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