That’s what Mayor Dan Allers told the community on Monday night on Mondays With The Mayor. If that happens the reopening of Bayside Park would be weeks before the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian and the 2023 Songwriter Festival.
The owners of Wahoo Willie’s, Snug Harbor, Nervous Neillie’s and other businesses on that end of Old San Carlos know how vital a vibrant park where people can relax, enjoy the view of the water and take in local concerts, would really boost their business. There has also been a discussion about having some of the performers from the Songwriter Festival at Bayside Park if its open. However, like Town Hall, the repairs to Bayside Park have been mired in FEMA’s never-ending red tape.
Mayor Allers said he was told by staff working on the issue that Bayside Park will be ready by Labor Day weekend. It has not been touched since Hurricane Ian came through over 9 months ago. Allers said last week the town received a positive report on the structures that hold the sails and an electrician was going out to the location this week to see how power could be installed. The previous council and town manager did not install power. Allers said the repairs may be done with the help of local volunteers.
To get FEMA funding to pay for the repairs the park must be put back exactly the way it was before the storm. Last month the Marine and Environmental Resources Task Force committee asked the town council to make changes to the park that, if followed, might jeopardize the FEMA funding. MERTF committee members want the council to eliminate the uplighting in the park and use amber lights with shielded fixtures. They urged the town not “to create light pollution.”
The committee is also asking the town “not to use artificial turf because it flakes plastic into the waterways.” And, the committee wants native trees in the park, not coconut palms.
Mayor Allers has repeatedly said the park will be repaired and put back exactly how it was before the storm as not to jeopardize the funding. Allers said the only thing there might be leeway on is going from astro-turf to regular grass.
Allers went on to say that, “We all know there’s not a ton of work that needs to be done at the park to get it open. Between our staff and volunteers we can get it done fairly quickly.”
The town attorney is working on a waiver for any volunteers to want to help work on the park.
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