Construction is under way on the south half of Hillsboro El Rio Park at Boca’s southeastern border.
With an estimated opening date at the end of 2019, the dawn-to-dusk park will include a soft launch for kayaks and canoes. With that El Rio canal access, the new park is considered part of the city’s waterfront master plan.
The city repaved and took the bump out of that stretch along Southwest 18th Street. The roadway will bisect the existing and new parks. The new park site is on 14 acres just west of the railroad tracks along Dixie Highway to the El Rio Canal.
The $5.6 million project will also include a sand volleyball court, four pickle-ball, one basketball and two tennis courts. A playground with restrooms and and seven picnic pavilions are planned.
Recreation Services director Michael Kalvort showed renderings of the new park at the monthly Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Associations meeting Tuesday.
The athletic complex will be on the east. The playground on the west will be fully accessible for all children, he said. “Parents can watch their kids and be protected from the elements,” he said.
The site was a city landfill decades ago. Fire Station 8 was built on the northeastern section of the city-owned parcel. Phase 1 on 12.5 acres opened in 2002 with ball fields. But phase II was never completed across the street.
Boca resident David O. Johnson championed the long-delayed park for years. He was interviewed when plans for the park were announced in December 2015. He attended the Federation meeting but didn’t speak.
By Marci Shatzman