Key Largo Rowell’s Waterfront Park Development Discussed

The Monroe County Parks & Recreation Advisory Board will meet at 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 28, to discuss how the county is planning to move forward with the development of Rowell’s Waterfront Park. Park designers S&ME, formerly known as Little John Engineering, will be on hand to answer any questions the public may have. “This is a community public meeting to discuss the timeline of the work progress,” said Chris Rivera, county project manager. The conceptual park design has been approved by the Monroe County Commission and will be implemented in phases. Rivera anticipates that construction on park’s restrooms to be placed closer to U.S. 1 will begin by the end of this year after the existing structure there is demolished. Demolition work began last week. These restrooms will include three men’s bathrooms and three women’s bathrooms. This initial phase of the project was allotted $247,000 and may be adjusted from there. An additional elevated unisex bathroom closer to the beach with outside showers will be installed later.

Rowell’s Waterfront Park

This rendering shows the design for Rowell’s Waterfront Park in Key Largo.

Rivera said more vegetation is planned for the buffer on the northern perimeter that separates the park from Tamarind Bay condominiums. During a January forum, members of the Tamarind Bay Homeowner’s Association voiced their concerns over park visitors intruding on the condo’s amenities and disturbing their peace with loud music, particularly during park-hosted festivals. According to homeowners, festival goers breach the fence to use the parking lot, boat slips, the condo pool or to relieve themselves. Monday’s meeting is the first of what advisory board member Jim Boilini estimates to be three or four. “We encourage as much public input as possible,” he said. “We want to be good neighbors, and we have to figure out how to accomplish that.”

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The advisory board was unified in its opposition to providing boaters access to the ramp at the waterfront park. The ramp will serve only as a launch for kayaks and standup paddleboards. “It’s a beautiful piece of property and the end result will be something beautiful that makes everyone happy and have access to,” Boilini said. “I’m sure we are are going to have some agreements and some disagreements. I encourage input and discourage shouting.” The January forum grew contentious as Tamarind Bay residents aired their complaints about park usage.

Rowell’s Waterfront Park, mile marker 104.5, bayside, opened last June as Monroe County’s 20th park after the county commission voted to purchase it in December 2013 for $5 million. The 8-acre park along Florida Bay has picnic tables, benches and a place to swim. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to sunset daily. Admission is free and it is a dog-friendly park. The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board meeting will take place at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center at mile marker 102, bayside. Contact Boilini at 305-522-6653 with any questions or concerns.

Source: Florida Keys Free Press tjava@keysnews.com

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