By Steve Plunkett
Improvements to Wildflower, South Beach, Spanish River, Palmetto Dune and Red Reef parks will cost $9.6 million to $13.3 million, the city’s waterfront parks consultant says.
The estimates do not include possibly buying another 0.7 acre at the Wildflower site, Kona Gray, with consultant EDSA Inc., said. They also omit the costs of refurbishing Rutherford and Lake Wyman parks, which are a separate project, and developing Ocean Strand, which the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District owns.
The Wildflower proposal is the biggest ticket item, at up to $3.6 million. That’s before adding the cost of acquiring the additional land and spending up to $900,000 fixing it up, plus anything spent to redo Silver Palm Park to the south.
EDSA’s concept for Wildflower introduces “some really wonderful elements, including a splash pad, an area for children to play, the waterfront promenade. You know the conversation earlier about art? Art would be fantastic in this park,” Gray told the City Council at its Feb. 12 workshop session.
Gray and Jennifer Bistyga, the city’s coastal program manager, asked council members to sign off on allowing EDSA to develop more detailed plans for Wildflower, which Boca Raton opened late last year as a mostly undeveloped, passive park at the northwest base of the Palmetto Park Road bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.
Later on, EDSA would develop a concept for Silver Palm, prioritize elements at the remaining parks and finalize a budget for the capital improvements.
“The other park renovations are very interesting, because we designed them but it’s kind of a menu. There are some really great elements of the projects that can be implemented, but it’s really up to you,” Gray said.
City Manager Leif Ahnell said it was premature to discuss changes at Silver Palm until the city firms up plans for boat launches at Rutherford Park.
“Having four launches in the city is probably too many,” Ahnell said.
(Residents at a public outreach Feb. 26 appeared to agree. See story, Page 20.)
Council members told Gray to push ahead on the Wildflower plans.
Mayor Susan Haynie said changes at Palmetto Dune Park might be a hard sell with neighbors but that EDSA “really knocked it out of the park” with its other conceptual designs.
“Go forth, create parks [and] livable spaces. We love it,” Haynie said.