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City can finally fast-track waterfront park downtown

Tired of waiting, council shot down a proposed 25% price hike to start work on Boca’s new waterfront park and promenade downtown. Instead, council directed staff to stick with the original $8.25 million budget and prioritize the Wildflower site build out. Design plans connect that vacant lot with Silver Palm Park under the Intracoastal bridge on Palmetto Park Road.

“We think you can get a very nice project with that money,” City Manager Leif Ahnell said at the workshop Tuesday.

The proposed $11 million-plus price tag gave Mayor Scott Singer “heartburn.” “Keep the pedestrian promenade. Under bridge lighting was in the top 10. We can cut line items like shade sails. Relocating the restroom [at Silver Palm] is something you can defer,” he said.

“I really want a schedule. I didn’t want to put a ‘coming soon’ sign up, and a year later find it’s over budget,” said City Councilwoman Andrea Levine O’Rourke.

The county owns the land under the bridge and those permits are still outstanding, said Jennifer Bistyga, the city’s coastal program manager. “We should have the permit by September,” she estimated.

Boca’s design consultant EDSA is nearly 90 percent done with construction documents, said the firm’s Kona Gray. “It’s two big parks we’re looking at over three years. Things change,” he said.

EDSA “can still do a signature park with the budget you agree upon. Our hope is to work with a contractor for the best value and lower cost, not at the top of our budget,” Gray said.

Staff expects to come back to council by their next meeting or two with recommendations, Ahnell said.

By Marci Shatzman

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