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Out of service, in for upgrade
Bayport Park will close from Monday until May 1,so the facilities can be improved and expanded.
By BARBARA BEHRENDT, Times Staff Writer
Published November 14, 2007
Bill Schreck of Hudson tosses out a blue crab trap from the Bayport Park pier on Tuesday. Although the county will be temporarily closing the popular park for several months for expansion and renovations, it hopes to reopen the park by May 1, in time for the popular tarpon fishing season.
[Ron Thompson | Times]
BAYPORT - Residents and visitors will temporarily have to find a new place to gaze into the sunset, and boaters will need an alternative launching site because the county is closing Bayport Park beginning Monday.
The closure is necessary to accommodate park improvements and expansion that county officials have been talking about for years.
The hope is that the $1.24-million improvement project will be done and the park reopen by May 1. That would mean it would be open in time for the popular tarpon fishing season, said Pat Fagan, parks and recreation director.
"This is the best time to do it," Fagan said. "We're going to try to get it back up as soon as possible."
The improvements are extensive enough that much of the park will be torn up, making it impossible to keep the park open through the process.
"There is just going to be so much area under construction that, for safety purposes, we have to do this," Fagan said.
County officials have been working with the county's Environmentally Sensitive Lands Committee and the Southwest Florida Water Management District to address environmental and design issues for the past several years. Suncoast Development Inc. of Odessa was awarded the contract for the project, which is being paid for with dollars collected through the county's Environmentally Sensitive Lands Fund.
George Foster, a member of the sensitive lands committee who lives near Bayport, said the committee has reviewed and commented on various versions of the improvement plan over time.
"We wanted to ensure that the character of the park would not be terribly diminished by the improvements," Foster said. "We wanted to save as many trees as we could and keep the environmental footprint as small as possible."
Ultimately, he said, "I think it's a pretty good outcome."
Parking at Bayport will be much improved.
The plan calls for completely rebuilding the parking lot and making room for 48 boat trailers and 35 cars. Now the park has just 18 spaces at the pier and room for just 14 boat trailers.
Traditionally, the overflow of boaters have had to park along the roadway, Fagan said.
Another major improvement will be the addition of a sewer connection, eliminating the old septic system. The project includes two sewer lift stations and a connection to the Bayport Inn wastewater treatment facility.
The existing restroom at the park will also be replaced with two new concrete restroom buildings.
A new boardwalk will be constructed, a portion of which will include benches where fishing will not be allowed. Other improvements include a large pavilion, five small picnic pavilions and a new water system.
Fagan said he was sure the public would be pleased with the final result even if they are inconvenienced for a few months.