The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: Revival plans for Lake Wyman won’t be tied to Wildflower property

By Steve Plunkett
Boca Raton is reviving a 4-year-old plan to rejuvenate Lake Wyman Park, but will not install temporary park facilities at its Wildflower property.
    The City Council in a Dec. 7 workshop made a commitment to pursue a multimillion-dollar grant to refurbish the park. Boca Raton and the county together would pay 30 percent of the cost.
    The rest of the money would come from the Florida Inland Navigation District, which mostly maintains the Intracoastal Waterway from Key West to the Georgia border, but also awards grants for waterway projects.
    “I really feel confident that if we all got together, we could fund this,” Mayor Susan Haynie said.
    The county first applied for the Lake Wyman grant in 2011. FIND agreed to pay $2.1 million to scoop out a spoil island the agency owns east of Lake Wyman Park and create a 3.3-acre basin for seagrass to offset possible seagrass damage when the Intracoastal is dredged. Eleven acres of Australian pines and Brazilian pepper would have been removed from the spoil island and two smaller islands FIND owns.
    The project also would have restored a canoe trail in Rutherford Park and built a six-slip boat dock. A boardwalk would have been lengthened and picnic and beach areas added along with an observation platform.
    The city and county each would have contributed $450,000. The city persuaded the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District to split its matching money so each would have given $225,000.
    But the same day the beach and park district was approving the request, the city withdrew its OK, saying it wanted FIND to pay for a study of tidal flushing in the canoe trail and to dredge the canal that separates the project area from the Golden Harbour neighborhood.
    The new deadline to apply to FIND is April 1.
    On the Wildflower site, the council decided it would cost too much — $300,000 — to open the parcel to the public while the city negotiates with the Hillstone Restaurant Group to put a new restaurant there.
    Dan Grippo, public works director, said a wall on the site at the northwest side of the Palmetto Park Road bridge could be removed and minor repairs to a seawall done cheaply.
    But the parcel also would need irrigation lines and new light fixtures installed.
    “There is no electric to the lighting currently,” Grippo said. “The parking lot is unraveling, the pavement is crumbling, there’s bumps in the parking lot that’s just roots coming up from trees. … The curbing’s all crumbling, so that would have to be redone.”
    Instead, council members said they wanted city staff to apply for a permit to build floating docks at the Wildflower site. Grippo said the docks, which might accommodate four to eight vessels, would cost $200,000 to $350,000.
    Councilman Scott Singer said people who want to sit by the Intracoastal can do that at other waterfront parks that are underused.
    “If you want to go out and look at the water right now and enjoy that view, go out to Red Reef Park,” Singer said.
    The council also decided not to pursue putting in a third boat launch at Silver Palm Park, just south of the Wildflower site, but asked city staff to move a tugboat and barge that are docked there on high-demand days.
    Grippo said boaters crowd the launch area each year on Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day and the first day of lobster mini-season.
    “And on those days one to two park rangers provide assistance from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for smooth operations,” he said.
    Grippo said the longest time that people wait to launch on the busiest days is 20 minutes. The rest of the year the wait is 10 minutes. The city has sold 702 boat launch permits to city residents and 343 to nonresidents, he said.
    The council also told city staff to issue a request for proposals from consultants to develop a comprehensive waterfront plan to guide the city’s actions on future park projects. Boca Raton owns 15 properties on the Intracoastal or on canals leading to it, Assistant City Manager Mike Woika said. Ú

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