7960827270?profile=originalBy Steve Plunkett

After one public outreach session on how to design Wildflower Park and a separate outreach session and an online survey for neighboring Silver Palm Park, consultant Kona Gray was not happy.
“Individually as parks they work. But together it kind of seems disjointed and we’re wondering to ourselves, ‘How can we make that better?’” he told the Boca Raton City Council on Nov. 26.
So Gray and his EDSA Inc. colleagues brainstormed again and decided to revise the drawings for both parks with areas shaped like water drops to have a unifying motif.
“It’s about celebrating water. It’s about giving people the opportunity to engage adjacent to the water,” he said.
EDSA also envisioned replacing its proposed children’s splash pad on the north side of the park with a “signature” water feature and boosting spaces for boat trailers even more, to 60 spots from the current 33. It would also add “floating wetlands” and cantilevered “overlooks” north and south of the Palmetto Park Road bridge to get people closer to the water.
Still in the plans are a third boat ramp, a wide promenade along the Intracoastal Waterway and “shade sails” over park benches.
“It’s festive, it’s fun, it’s a really cool place,” Gray said.
Mayor Scott Singer said “we’re getting there” but warned that money is a concern.
“A dollar spent here is a dollar not spent elsewhere on city needs,” Singer said before he and the four council members debated changes they wanted.
Their alterations included more play opportunities for children, perhaps combined with public art; more parking (the Wildflower dropped to 32 spaces from 50 in the previous plan); moving the restrooms farther from the Intracoastal Waterway; removing a turnaround and any other vehicular uses from under the bridge; and adding concrete stairs from the bridge down to the park on the north side similar to the ones on the south.
Council members also told City Manager Leif Ahnell to explore getting land on the east side of Northeast Fifth Avenue to add a sidewalk and perhaps a turn lane. That corner parcel is vacant now, but the owner wants “eight figures” to sell it to Boca Raton, Singer said.
The city will hold a contest to name the combined parks. Singer and EDSA independently suggested “Centennial Park” (the city turns 100 in 2024), but council member Andrea O’Rourke said too many other cities already use that name.
“I’d much rather it be named for the donor who’s going to give us $25 million for all this, the $25 Million Man or Lady Park, that’s fine with me,” Singer said.
Gray said moving the restrooms will cost $500,000; in all, the consolidated parks will cost $8 million.
Ahnell budgeted $1 million this fiscal year and $2 million the following year to build the park on the Wildflower side. The 2019-2020 budget also has $1.5 million set aside for the Silver Palm side.

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