Construction on a $3.11 million Bayfront Park renovation originally slated for construction in December has been pushed back while construction plans are finalized.
If you’ve been yearning to take your four-legged friend to a new dog park or launch your kayak at a new launch pad at Bayfront Park, you’re going to have to wait a little longer.
A first quarter construction start date for Bayfront Park renovations has been pushed back until May while designs for the project are completed. The original timeline had construction starting in December. The town later moved the planned start date to the first quarter of 2016.
The latest delay comes because hiring a construction manager took longer than expected as the town transitioned oversight of the project after the departure of former Assistant Town Manager Anne Ross in October.
Now, Town Manager Dave Bullock expects construction plans for the project to be 60% complete later this month and approximately 90% complete in March.
Jon F. Swift Construction, which is acting now as the construction manager for the project, is working with the town and the architect and engineer on the project.
“We’re working to move along design work and then permits as quick as possible,” said Emmalee Legler, marketing manager at Jon F. Swift Construction. “We know how important this park is to the residents of Longboat Key.”
Public Works Director Juan Florensa said he’s hopeful the town will receive state permits for the park that are needed to install structures like a new kayak launch in the bay, in time to start the project in May. That could allow the town to finish work on the park by the end of 2016.
Bay Isles resident and park supporter Madelyn Spoll expressed disappointment about the delay.
“I truly believe the town is making a big mistake by not getting this park started earlier,” she said. “It just shows how dysfunctional government can be. Multiple organizations have donated to this park, and it’s time to get moving on it.”
The $3.11 million park overhaul will include a shaded playground, pickleball, tennis and basketball courts, as well as a bocce ball open space area. Other offerings include a dog park, kayak launch and paddle sports loading area, walking trails and a preserved rain garden area.
Sarasota County purchased a 3.53-acre parcel adjacent to the park in 2007, becoming a partner with the town for a park redesign.
The county agreed in June to pay $2 million toward the park’s renovations. The county is using $1.3 million from its Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program, $50,000 from tourism tax dollars and $650,000 from surtax funds.
The town and county have an interlocal agreement that states the town is responsible for the park’s maintenance and upkeep. The town’s portion of the project is $1,027,279.