Bradenton's Riverwalk renovations nearing completion, grand opening scheduled for Oct. 18

Grand opening scheduled for Oct. 18

mvalverde@bradenton.comJuly 24, 2012 

BRADENTON -- The $6.2 million in renovations to Bradenton's Riverwalk is about 75 to 80 percent complete, said David Gustafson, executive director of Bradenton's Downtown Development Authority. The grand opening celebration featuring live music, walking tours and refreshments is scheduled for Oct. 18.

"The team is progressing, we are coming to an end on a lot of things," Gustafson told the DDA board at a meeting Tuesday.

Gustafson said they were dealing with costs issues on a daily basis and that the project remains on budget.

"You got a great team working their tails off to make sure the Riverwalk is what we envision it to be," he said.

The approximately 1.5-mile strip along the Manatee River stretches from Manatee Memorial Hospital on the east to a pedestrian access gateway on the west near the Green Bridge.

Manatee Memorial Hospital next week will start work on $99,000 in improvements to its property bordering the Riverwalk, Gustafson said.

The completed project will include a fishing pier, amphitheater, and skateboard park.

In other matters, Gustafson

said the DDA, Manatee County and the nonprofit An Act of Dog are in final negotiations for the acquisition of a building that will become a memorial museum with 5,500 paintings of dogs.

"That represents the number of dogs that are killed each day in U.S. shelters," said Marina Dervan, co-founder of An Act of Dog.

An Act of Dog aims to bring awareness to the "No-Kill" movement and plans to raise at least $20 million to donate to no-kill shelters, rescue groups and related programs.

"No-kill means you are not killing healthy and adoptable animals," Dervan said.

It's taking Mark Barone, the nonprofit's co-founder, two years to paint the 5,500 portraits of dogs that were eventually killed in shelters, Dervan said.

Manatee County was chosen as the home for the memorial museum because the county "officially stepped up and went no-kill and we think that's a very courageous thing to do and it's a reflection of the deep commitment the community has for animals," Dervan said.

"Bradenton is the friendly city for people and pets," she added.

If everything goes as planned the memorial museum could open in Bradenton by late summer 2013, Dervan said.

Miriam Valverde, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamValverde.

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