Q: Do you know when the Big Corkscrew Island Regional Park swimming pool, located near the Collier County fairgrounds, is set to open? Thank you. — Tenley Smith, Orangetree
A: Collier County intends to launch the new Aquatic Center later this summer at Big Corkscrew Island Regional Park in Golden Gate Estates, but a specific date is not available yet.
“Late summer is the best I can give you,” said Tony Barone, senior project manager for the county’s Division of Facilities Management.
“The rest of the park is open – the ballfields, the multipurpose, the event lawn, all the pickleball courts, basketball, tennis, the trails, the walking paths around the park. All that stuff has opened but the aquatic facility is the only piece that we have yet to open up to the public. That’s going to open up late summer.”
The new waterpark is designed for both adults and children. Numerous swimming lessons and aerobic activities will be offered throughout the year in classes with instruction.
As briefly mentioned, the Aquatic Center will join Big Corkscrew Island Regional Park’s many other amenities: six pickleball courts, four multipurpose athletic fields, two tennis courts, two softball fields, two outdoor basketball courts, a National Fitness Campaign workout court, a large playground, a 22,641-square-foot community center, an event lawn, walking paths, two concession pavilions and numerous picnic pavilions.
That’s just the first phase for the 150-acre regional park at 810 39th Ave. NE, accessible off Immokalee Road a short distance past the Collier County fairgrounds. The second phase of the park, one of the largest in the area, includes more amenities: a fitness center/gymnasium, a large lake with a kayak/canoe launch, four baseball fields, walking paths and a concession pavilion.
Construction of the park’s second phase is planned to start this fall and will include the creation of a second entrance road near Palmetto Ridge High School at a traffic signal on Oil Well Road, Barone said.
“So, by fall of ‘24, we’re going to have an access road and a traffic signal there that’s going to support the south side of the park and the new commercial development there,” he said.
Q: When is Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk going to open? Looks like it has been ready for months but it’s all locked up. — Terry D. Matt, Naples
A: Structurally damaged during Hurricane Ian last fall, a number of places within the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk remain unsafe for guest use, report representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The goal is to reopen this popular scenic attraction in Collier County by the end of the year.
“The boardwalk’s underlying structure, decking and railing were severely compromised during the storm and evaluations are ongoing to restore this structure to its original design,” said Brooke Keck, responsible for communications and external affairs in DEP’s South District Office in Fort Myers.
“Like much of Southwest Florida, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park sustained significant impacts from Hurricane Ian, including extensive flooding, downed trees and vegetation, and damage to buildings and structures. Following the storm, park staff, strike teams and construction professionals from around the state began work to restore access to this and other impacted parks in the area. Then, focus shifted to longer-term cleanup and construction projects to repair impacted structures.”
The existing boardwalk, which extends about 2,500 feet – nearly half a mile – into the swamp and through one of the last stands of virgin bald cypress trees in Florida, will be replaced within the current footprint with no expansion, Keck said, although a boardwalk with rest stops from the new day use area will connect to the existing boardwalk that ends with an observation deck at an alligator pond. A must-see experience for Collier County residents or visitors, the boardwalk at 27020 Tamiami Trail E. is on the north side of U.S. 41, about 7 miles west of State Road 29.
Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk is one of four main areas in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, the largest state park in Florida and home to varieties of plant and animal species that cannot be found anywhere else. Access to the other three areas – the East River, Jones Grade lakes and trail, and Janes Memorial Scenic Drive – are open and available for paddling, fishing and hiking, but the boardwalk and some other amenities remain temporarily closed for cleanup and repairs, Keck said.
“Evaluations are ongoing to determine the scope and timeline for restoring damaged structures, including the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk,” she said. “The department is committed to getting these repairs completed as expeditiously as possible, and we anticipate completing repairs and reopening this popular amenity in late 2023.”
Updates will be posted on the park’s webpage at floridastateparks.org.
The “Tim Aten Knows” weekly column answers local questions from readers. Email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.