By Steve Plunkett
Lake Wyman’s closest neighbors are renewing their call for further study of the park’s renovation now that the project has been revived.
Golden Harbour residents’ main concern remains submerging 4 acres of land to make a seagrass mitigation pond without doing “a proper engineering study,” said Christine Cherepy, of the Golden Harbour Homeowners Association.
The neighborhood fears the pond could become a mosquito breeding spot.
In 2011, the county’s Environmental Resources Management Department and the Florida Inland Navigation District were ready to fund a more than $3 million restoration of Lake Wyman and Rutherford parks. Golden Harbour opposition and City Council concerns about having little say in the plan scuttled it.
“Our neighborhood has consistently asked the city, FIND, Palm Beach ERM, this body [and] other groups to do an independent engineering study to ensure that if you submerge 4 acres of land on the FIND parcel in Lake Wyman Park that the flushing is adequate, both immediately after this project is done, a year afterwards, three years afterwards, 10 years afterwards,” Cherepy told the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District at its July 11 meeting.
She asked the district to pay for the engineering study, which in 2011 was estimated to cost $50,000, or 1.7 percent of the total project.
“So for 1.7 percent you could ensure that anything that is submerged doesn’t become swampland over time,” Cherepy said.
She also revived concerns that an access road is too close to the canal that separates the park from her neighborhood and that day slips for boats will endanger manatees.
Golden Harbour resident Steve Reiss, who lives on the 14th Street canal, said the proposal has no provision for a restroom and will change the dynamics of getting to Lake Boca, with boaters stopping at the day slips to pick up passengers.
“All of a sudden like ants they’ll be coming through there,” Reiss said.
In June, Boca Raton’s environmental advisory board told the City Council that the county should be considered an expert at turning spoil islands into seagrass and mangrove habitat, with successful projects in Ocean Ridge, West Palm Beach and Jupiter.
“We’re not launching a space shuttle here. We just need to make a good habitat. That’s exactly what this is doing,” Steve Alley, chairman of the environmental board, said in urging the council to pursue the renovation.
The basic plan is to remove four spoil islands in Lake Wyman, clean out canoe trails in Rutherford and Lake Wyman parks, extend a boardwalk and add some amenities.
In 2011, the estimated cost of the restoration was just more than $3 million, with FIND contributing $2.1 million and the county and city $450,000 each. The Beach and Park District agreed to fund half of Boca Raton’s share.
To get the deal done, FIND wants all permits in hand by September 2017. Boca Raton has to reapply for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which will take a year if there are no big changes to the original plan.
By Steve Plunkett