By Willie Howard
Boca Raton’s Silver Palm Park and its boat ramp closed on Sept. 7 as work began to transform the 3.7-acre park with new amenities.
The closure is expected to continue for about six months. New boat ramp permits will not be issued until the park reopens once construction is complete.
The adjacent 2.3-acre Wildflower Park closed in January, also for construction work.
When the multimillion-dollar Wildflower/Silver Palm Park project is completed, the parks will be connected and will include promenades, a pavilion, event lawn, enhanced landscaping, a third boat ramp and public art.
In Boynton Beach, popular boat-launching ramps at Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park will close for two months in the spring so the aging ramps can be rebuilt.
The four launch ramps have been damaged over the years — partly because boat propeller thrust, created when boaters use their engines to push vessels onto trailers, has undermined the base that supports the ramps.
Gary Dunmyer, interim director of public works and engineering for Boynton Beach, has heard complaints from boaters about crumbling concrete on the launch ramps, which he said have reached the end of their useful life.
The Florida Inland Navigation District will pay the $1.2 million cost of rebuilding the ramps, which means taxpayers from 12 Florida counties bordering the Atlantic Ocean will share in the cost of the work.
Closing the Oyer Park boat ramps for construction is expected to happen during April and May, though the schedule could change based on the availability and arrival time of materials needed for the job.
The contractor, which had not been selected as of early September, must have the materials on site before work can begin, Dunmyer said. The goal is to minimize the number of days boaters will have to go elsewhere to launch and retrieve their boats while the Oyer Park ramps are renovated.
Dunmyer said the contract stipulates that the ramp rebuilding must be completed within 60 days after work begins.
Updates on the project can be found at www.Boynton-Beach.org/newsletter.
Alternative boat ramps in the Boca Raton/Boynton Beach area include Knowles Park at 1001 S. Federal Highway in Delray Beach; Mangrove Park at 1211 S. Federal Highway in Delray Beach; Sportsman’s Park at 320 E. Ocean Ave. in Lantana; Bryant Park on Golfview Road at Second Avenue South in Lake Worth Beach, and to the south, Pioneer Park at 217 NE Fifth Ave. in Deerfield Beach.
Prices for next year’s annual parking passes at Oyer Park — required for the extra-long truck/trailer spaces — have been adjusted to reflect the two-month construction closure. The annual pass price will be $165 for Florida residents and $290 for out-of-state residents.
Separately, Palm Beach County, working with the city of Boynton Beach, plans to dredge the channel leading from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Oyer Park boat ramps.
Dredging should make the channel 3 to 4 feet deeper and will be done in conjunction with the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway and the sand trap inside Boynton Inlet, said Andy Studt, environmental program supervisor with Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management.
The dredging work is expected to begin in February or March, depending on the time required to obtain permits.
Bobber’s Under wins top prize in Gerretson
Ryan Lucas and his teammates on Bobber’s Under won the prize for heaviest fish in the 26th annual Mark Gerretson Memorial tournament with a 22.6-pound kingfish.
The Bobber’s Under team won $1,600 for the kingfish, which it caught in somewhat sloppy seas Aug. 28.
Josh Obem and his team on The Boat King won the kingfish division and a $1,000 prize with a 17.8-pound kingfish.
Marc Herman and his team on Uranus weighed the heaviest dolphinfish (mahi mahi) at 8.6 pounds to win $1,000.
Mia Scalo won the mystery fish category (and top female angler) with a 0.8-pound yellowtail snapper.
Sixteen boats participated. The event was postponed by two weeks because of unstable weather during the second week of August.
No wahoo were weighed in this year’s tournament, and none of the fishing teams delivered a trifecta — kingfish, dolphin and wahoo — meaning the trifecta prize increases to $4,000 for next year’s tournament.
Named for its late founder, the Gerretson tournament is run by volunteers and is a nonprofit organization that benefits youth causes in Delray Beach.
LEFT: Marc Herman prepares to weigh an 8.6-pound dolphinfish at Palm Beach Yacht Center. It was the largest dolphin caught in the 26th annual Mark Gerretson Memorial tournament, held Aug. 28.
Fort Lauderdale boat show starts Oct. 27
The 62nd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is set for Oct. 27-31 based at Bahia Mar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
General admission tickets cost $37 for adults and $15 for ages 6-15. The show managers with Informa note that 80% of the show will be outdoors and that health safety protocols will be in place.
Show hours are 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. except on opening day (Oct. 27), when the hours are noon to 5 p.m. The show closes at 6 p.m. Oct. 31.
Details and tickets can be found at www.flibs.com.
Mary Hladky contributed to this column.
Willie Howard is a freelance writer and licensed boat captain. Email email@example.com.