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Now anyone can climb the Gumbo Limbo tower

Big news for nature lovers, even with mobility issues. Boca’s famous 40-foot tower at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center can be rebuilt with access for all.

An incline used at a Maryland park complies with Americans With Disabilities standards. Friends of Gumbo Limbo have pledged a $500,000 donation to help fund the project, Michele Peel said Monday. Fundraising efforts for this campaign are expected to start in the next few weeks.

“Aesthetically, this funicular [incline] blends in well with the location,” said Peel, president of Friends of Gumbo Limbo.

It’s on wooden supports and features a custom-etched, Plexiglass cab. The cab can accommodate a wheelchair and two people.

The original overlook was demolished in 2016 after the city declared it unsafe. The rebuild was part of boardwalk reconstruction, now set to be finished the first week in June.

But the project didn’t meet ADA standards and the city asked for work to stop, and then options.

So Peel spoke to a boardwalk engineer about this add-on. “The space east of the tower would be ideal,” she reported to Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District commissioners. The district oversees and pays for nature center projects.

Similar projects have been installed in marine and high-wind environments. “The one in Maryland can withstand 200 mph winds for up to four hours,” Peel said.

Costs are expected at $300,000 for the equipment and $100,000 to $150,000 for installation. There’s no operator for the incline, but future maintenance would be extra, Peel said.

“Every person would love to see this happen,” Peel added.

“This is the perfect solution,” Commissioner Bob Rollins Jr. said before the unanimous vote to back the project.

By Marci Shatzman

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