Lake Wyman makeover back in Boca’s plans

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By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Plans to rehab Boca Raton’s Lake Wyman are back on track.
Boca Council Members agreed to move forward with a new plan to add a double boat ramp, a kayak launch site, 38 parking spaces and possibly a bridge to 2.4 acres of land. The project would restore a canoe trail system that has been closed for more than decade, renovate boardwalks and upgrade the area of Lake Wyman and James A. Rutherford parks.
“We would like to get this moving,” City Manager Leif Ahnell told council members.
That’s because city staff estimate the project wouldn’t be completed until December 2019. The project will require extensive permitting from other government entities like the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. But it is likely some of the entities will help fund the cost of the project, according to the city’s coastal program manager Jennifer Bistyga.
The Florida Inland Navigation District will likely contribute anywhere from half to 75 percent of the costs associated with the project. Palm Beach County officials indicated they would help fund costs associated with enhancements, but not the funding of boat docks. To receive funding from FIND, the city would have to permit the district access to Spanish River Park for dredging on the west side of the park. The boat ramps would also have to be open to the public, not just Boca residents if state money is used to fund the project.
The new proposal differs from a 2011 plan, which called for day docks and submerging of land. Residents voiced concerns over a possible influx of mosquitos that may come with a manatee friendly seagrass habitat and a possible loss of privacy due to the day docks.
City officials say the new proposals eliminate previous concerns that led to the halt of the $3 million restoration project several years ago. The new site is located closer to Publix and CVS shopping plaza, which is further away from residences, and there are no day docks proposed.
“We have eliminated what seemed to be the biggest concern of five years ago,” Councilman Scott Singer said. “Let’s move forward.”
At least one resident is happy to see the project come back for consideration.
“I am thrilled that you’re taking up the Lake Wyman project,” resident Lenore Wachtel told commissioners at a recent city council meeting. “This is a very, very special asset of the community and of our city It’s a very interesting place to actually walk. I want to preserve and enhance the boardwalks.”
Council members agreed that the new proposal provided adequate parking, had less of an impact on mangroves and seagrass and would restore the canoe trails. The plans calls for restrooms, picnic tables and walking paths as well.
Another option up for consideration had less parking, more impact on the mangroves and seagrass, was located closer to residences and was more costly.
City staff estimate the boat ramps alone will cost about $1.5 million. Council members said they would like to see a bridge added to the project, which is staff estimate will add at least $1 million to the cost.
“I am fully on board with this,” Councilman Jeremy Rodgers said. “I like the overall idea.”