■ BY SUE ERWIN
If you’ve taken a walk near the water at Gasparilla Island State Park over the past year, you’ve most likely noticed that the boardwalks on the beach side were pretty much washed out.
A few months ago, two state park rangers decided to do something about it.
Robert Longo and Shannon Black wrote a grant proposal and submitted it to the Lee County Tourism Development Council with the guidance of Gasparilla Island Administration Park Manager Chad Lach.
The proposal explained the situation and the necessary action required to help keep visitors safe.
“We received $135,000 from the council,” Lach said. “We had to go through the design phase and then get the permit. We started the installation about three weeks ago.”
There will be a pathway from the pavilion of the lighthouse and a boardwalk over the dunes leading to a ramp that will take park visitors to the beach. There are three boardwalks in total at the park, two of which were completely washed out. One has been replaced, and park staff members are currently working on the longer one that’s been taped up and closed off for about two years.
“We had to remove small pieces of it at a time, because much of it was sinking into the water,” Lach said. “This is a barrier island, so the water’s edge varies from day to day.”
Lach said all the pilings are in place, and the rangers just need to complete the framing and decking on new ramp.
The ramp will also be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible.
The project should be wrapped up within the next 30 days.