After nearly two years of renovations, visitors to Boca Raton‘s Gumbo Limbo Nature Center will finally be able to walk the coastal hammock boardwalk starting Wednesday.
City officials will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m., officially opening the first leg of the repaired boardwalk to the public.
The manmade trail is a one-quarter-mile loop that winds through the area’s natural hardwood hammock environment. The boardwalk and the observation tower it leads to, which have been in place for 30 years, were closed for renovations just over 21 months ago amid rotten wood beams and other signs of aging.
Initial plans called for $2 million in renovations to create a safer pathway and tower. But after officials discovered most of the tower had rotted, the city tore it down last month.
This first phase of boardwalk renovations, which cost about $601,000, replaced pickets along the trail with mesh screens for better wildlife viewing. Pathways were widened, and durable, non-slip recycled plastic replaced the wooden deck and railings.
The second and third phases will include a full renovation of the western portion of the loop, and a refurbishing of the older section that connects to Red Reef West.
The project is a collaborative effort between the city of Boca Raton, the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, Florida Atlantic University and Friends of Gumbo Limbo.