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Bids go out for controversial waterfront Ocean Strand park

Bids will go out this week to design and build a passive park on the 11-acre western side of Ocean Strand. The move puts an end to a condo controversy and offers to buy the 14-acre waterfront site that straddles A1A on the ocean and Intracoastal.

“The goal is just to preserve the natural elements and make this minimally intrusive. We were out there this week, and there are woodpeckers, owls and bluejays,” said Briann Harms, executive director of the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District.

The scope of work in this first phase to ready the park for visitors won’t include parking, Harms said. People can walk 15 minutes north of Red Reef Park before Spanish River Boulevard, she added. Parking could be included in the next phase on the ocean side, which will have city council and residents’ feedback first, she added.

The district bought the undeveloped site for $11.6 million in 1994. In the last few years, neighboring condos organized objections against a park with attractions. An appraisal set off rumors the district would sell the property to a developer. But the state attorney general ruled the district is not allowed to sell, lease or convey this property, district lawyer Sam Goren confirmed Monday.

District commissioners put another $25,000 aside, totaling $100,000 toward the project to attract more bidders. The scope of work will include: a pedestrian gate; natural walking path/trail; sustainable materials; picnic tables and seating with shade coverage, at least one ADA accessible; exotic removal for Intracoastal view; trash receptacles; wayfinding signs and natural barriers to prevent access to neighboring properties.

Deadline for design and build proposals is 2 p.m. July 31. Commissioners will choose the contractor. The board approved the project in April and intends to open the park to the public by the end of the year.

By Marci Shatzman

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