Construction bids pave way for waterfront park downtown

City council just approved final plans to develop the Wildflower site and redevelop Silver Palm Park. That paves the way for the design for 6.4 acres of waterfront connected under the Palmetto Park Road Intracoastal bridge.

“We have to hire a contractor to tweak the project and will let you know as we go along,” city manager Leif Ahnell told council Tuesday. “The RFP is going out within a week or two and we should see something by September,” he said about the construction bid. “We plan to start to work in January.”

The project came in at more than $11 million, a sum council rejected. Now the consultant EDSA is working with a value-engineered design at the original $8.25 million. That meant eliminating some items, like the number of sails for shade at Silver Palm Park, the city’s only dock.

“The design is still intact. We made minor adjustments to meet the budget. A third of the sails were removed on the south side, but there’s still ample shade,” said EDSA’s Kona Gray.

The undeveloped Wildflower site with a large parking lot won’t have a stage now. But Gray told council an oval area next to the waterfront promenade remains as a place for bands to perform.

The slope of the promenade and connector under the bridge concerned council. Gray said it was just a 5 percent incline and met Americans With Disabilities guidelines. “We’re using a slope ramp instead of steps,” he added.

“Can we add more grass instead of hardscape if that can bring the price down?” asked council member Andrea Levine O’Rourke. Gray liked that idea. “As landscape architects, we love green,” he said.

The Wildflower site has a controversial history that bars commercial restaurants on the waterfront site. Residents were invited to weigh in on the design for the combined parks as plans progressed.

Plans to rebuild a seawall are out to bid now and will close at the end of July, said Jennifer Bistyga, the city’s coastal program manager. That’s now a separate project. “We anticipate construction by October, November this year. It will take close to six months, depending on the contractor’s availability and materials. It will not interfere with the park project.”

By Marci Shatzman

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