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Regulars bummed by closure

Belleair Boat Ramp Park, a popular fishing spot, will close while the new Belleair Beach Causeway is constructed.

By LORRI HELFAND
Published February 13, 2007


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BELLEAIR BLUFFS - A popular boat ramp and fishing spot off the Belleair Beach Causeway will shut down next week to allow for construction of a new causeway.

On Monday, several regulars were upset to hear that Belleair Boat Ramp Park, 3900 West Bay Drive, will be closed to all vehicles, boats and pedestrians for 21/2 years while the bridge and boat ramp reconstruction is completed.

"We come here every day and fish," said Tim Rosencrants, 58, sitting under some palms on the east end of the park. "Now we have to find a new place."

"We've got to find another place, and we don't know where," said Sebastiano Girgenti, 66, showing off four mullets, a whiting and a trout he caught on the west end of the park.

The inconvenience is unavoidable because the park will be used as a staging area for construction, said Mary Burrell, a county spokeswoman. Traffic to and from the beach will not be disturbed because the new bridge will be built north of the current structure.

The $72.2-million, 1.67-mile causeway will replace two existing bridges: one that spans the Intracoastal Waterway and a second, smaller bridge that goes over a relief channel.

The 5-acre park, which opened in 1965, has seven docks, eight boat ramp lanes and about 150 parking spaces.

About 797,000 vehicles visit the park each year, according to the county's most recent estimates.

Rosencrants said about 20 regulars hang out at the ramp every day. They call themselves "Eastenders" and "Westenders," depending on their favorite fishing spots.

Rosencrants said the group plans to scout new locations this week. The park will close Monday.

"We're just enjoying our last couple of days before it closes," Rosencrants said.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at 727 445-4155 or lorri@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

 

While Belleair Boat Ramp Park is closed

Try these other county-run boat ramps in mid and south Pinellas County:

Park Boulevard Boat Ramp Park: 18651 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores

War Veterans' Memorial Park: 9600 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg

Fort De Soto Park: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde

[Last modified February 12, 2007, 22:53:35]


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