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East County Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2010 7 years ago

Jiggs Landing renovation on schedule

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — The shoreline of Jiggs Landing may be temporarily barred from view by wire fencing, but in just a few months, the East County landmark again will be open to the public —as a county park.

Manatee County currently is transforming the five-acre site into a park that will offer amenities to residents such as a pavilion and playground, rental cabins for fisherman who wish to stay overnight and a boardwalk. The site also will be home to a museum about the property.

Members of the Old Braden River Historical Society, a group dedicated to preserving the history of the Braden River and protecting it, had worked to salvage one of the original fishing cabins from the property to use it for the museum but learned recently the structure could not be saved.

“We’re disappointed, but we definitely understood,” said Peggy Christ, society board member. “We want to be able to have people come in and out. It almost became a no-brainer that we weren’t going to be able to salvage it.”

Members of the society have since saved whatever they could from the old fishing cabin, including the toilet and sink, among other items.

Christ said members of the society’s newly formed museum committee plan to schedule tours of similar historical sites to see how their museums are set up and how decorations and artifacts are displayed.

“We’re going to incorporate some of the stuff from the cabin in there and do the rest of the cabin based (on what it used to look like),” said Christ, noting Sandy Metcalf, a relative of the original Jiggs Landing owners, has provided a rendering of how the cabin used to look inside. “The historical society is responsible for the interior. We’re trying to pull up enough money that we can go out and buy stuff that kind of replicates the interior. We’re going to try to do it as close as possible.”

The county now will construct a replica cabin, which will be outfitted for flood protection, said Charlie Hunsicker, director for the county’s natural resources department.

Construction of the park is still in its early stages with site preparation work currently under way. The county, Hunsicker said, then will first focus on completing park amenities, which are items funded through a state grant, before turning its attention to expanding the facility’s existing boat launch, also part of the project.

The end result will be an expanded, two-bay boat ramp with better launch facilities. Additionally, a gated separation of boater access and boat trailer parking from other recreational uses will allow the county to offer limited hours at the park while providing more access for boaters.

Hunsicker said the boat ramp at Jiggs will remain open until the park portion of the site is complete. He could not estimate how long the boat launch would be closed once its construction begins.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

Jiggs Landing has been a fishing and boat-launching ramp since at least 1939, according to county records. Alphonso Metcalf, who was nicknamed “Jiggs,” purchased the property in the late 1930s. It sold in the 1990s and again in 2004. Manatee County acquired it for about $850,000 in September 2004, saving it from residential development.

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