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Bayfront Park features electric car charger

Longboat residents can now charge their electric vehicles on the town's dime.

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  • | 8:47 p.m. October 2, 2017
  • Longboat Key
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Bayfront Park visitors can now add some electricity to their trip. 

Along with a kayak launch, playground and pavilion, the town installed an electric car charger as part of its $3.5 million renovation of the park. Adjacent to one of Bayfront's two dog parks, the electric bill from the charger is being paid for by the town, so it's like a free fill up.

"We're not sure how much it will cost, but we don't think it will break us," Town Manager Dave Bullock said. 

The public charging station is the first, and so far only, one of its kind on the island. The unit, along with construction costs, totaled $55,000 with Sarasota County picking up about half the cost through its reimbursement program for public electric charging station. 

As the town was evaluating renovation plans, officials talked with Florida Power & Light Co. about the logistics of installing a charger. Located near an existing power line, the charger was an easy fit, Bullock said. 

"At the time we were building the park, we realized something like this would never get cheaper," Town Manager Dave Bullock said. 

Installing the charger wasn't sparked by a public demand, but rather a vision for the future, Bullock said. He said there will likely be more and more electric vehicles in the future, so it was better to set up the charging station now. 

Contemporary electric cars take hours to charge fully, but the updated Bayfront Park sets up plenty of activities during the wait. In addition the aforementioned amenities, the park offers fishing piers and courts for pickleball, tennis, basketball and shuffleboard.

The town doesn't have estimates on the number of uses, but residents had taken advantage of the free charge since the onset of the park's re-opening. On the first day the charger was accessible to the public, Bullock said the town wanted to take pictures of the set up to inform residents it was available.

As they went to take a picture, one resident was already plugged in. 

"Some people thought we faked the picture," Bullock said. 

Construction on the $3.5 million project began in June 2016. While the town paid $1.02 million for the renovations, Sarasota County contributed $2 million. Though the park has been open for use since early summer, a formal grand opening ceremony is planned this fall to thank the members of the Key community who contributed donations for the some of the park's features.


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