Riverwalk reality: project to begin this week

skennedy@bradenton.comAugust 23, 2011 

BRADENTON -- Construction on Bradenton’s long-awaited Riverwalk project is expected to officially begin Wednesday.

Project officials hope to get the site development permit signed today, which would clear the way for construction to begin, said Dale Weidemiller, Riverwalk project administrator.

The actual first steps on the $6.2 million enhancement along the bank of the Manatee River officially would take place Wednesday, he said, but there would not be any visible construction for awhile.

Next month, officials are planning a ground-breaking ceremony for the linear park, he said.

Among the final issues still being decided Monday were details about a skate park.

“The skate park is still under design,” Weidemiller said Monday. “There are two contenders for the design.”

The western edge of the Riverwalk is slated to begin at about 14th Street West. It would follow the riverbank east to about Sixth Street Northeast, concluding at Tarpon Point, according to the plans.

NDC Construction Co. of Bradenton is the contractor.

The first construction is expected to be visible in and around the U.S. 41 overpass, creating a venue for rowing events and putting in the skatepark, said Weidemiller.

Plans call for a great lawn, perhaps where yoga or tai chi classes might take place; an arbor swing overlooking the river; a renovated fishing pier; a shaded bandshell; a family activity area with an interactive fountain and plaza; and an upgraded playground.

Also on the drawing board for the 15-acre project are sand volleyball courts and a plaza with an existing veterans’ memorial, along with a relocated EMS memorial, it said.

One feature of the Riverwalk is already in place: Architectural plans show a spot on its far eastern side with the designation: “Future restaurant.”

A new, privately owned restaurant, Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar, 215 Eighth St. E., is already built there, comprising the eastern anchor of the Riverwalk. The popular restaurant, which opened earlier this summer overlooking the river, was an immediate success.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.

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