PARRISH -- Almost as fast as the silt fences at Fort Hamer Park went up, they came back down again.
Boaters and anglers visiting Fort Hamer Park last weekend found the boat ramp and dock area blocked by a silt fence.
They were none too pleased, considering no signs were posted explaining why the recreation area had been fenced off.
The silt fences signal the start of $1 million in long-awaited improvements to Fort Hamer Park.
Upgrades include more parking, security lights, turn-around loop, plaza between the boat house and restrooms, stormwater improvements and sidewalks.
Construction is expected to begin by the end of January. It is a much smaller companion project to one to the east: the $32.69 million Fort Hamer Bridge and road project by Johnson Brothers Corp. of Bartow, due to be completed in early 2017.
When angler complaints were relayed, county officials removed the silt fences, county spokesman Nick Azzara confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
They will return in the next week or two when Gator Grading and Paving of Palmetto begins the makeover.
"We will do what we can to accommodate boaters, but it will be tough," said Tom Yarger, construction services division manager for Manatee County government, noting work at Fort Hamer Park will be extensive.
Eventually, the Fort Hamer boat ramp will be expanded from a single-wide to a double-wide launch, an upgrade not included in the current project.
The centerpiece of Fort Hamer Park is an $825,000 rowing training a facility that has become a magnet for many top collegiate rowing teams.
An even larger county park on the east side of Fort Hamer Road, the 90-acre Hidden Harbor Park, is expected to remain largely for hikers and nature lovers.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.