As many Islanders have seen, there has been a huge pile of debris at the entrance to Isles of Capri on State land for almost 3 years. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, managed by the FDEP, has wanted to move forward with this project, but until now there has been one delay after another. Rookery Bay has now successfully completed all the engineering designs for the site and obtained all the required approvals from local, state and federal agencies, and the trash piles are ready to be sorted and hauled to the County landfill. Once these trash piles have been hauled to the landfill, construction can begin. And what will you see and enjoy?
It will be called the Isles of Capri Park, serving the county’s first public launch site designed exclusively for paddle craft, including kayaks, paddle boards and canoes. The use of paddle craft in Collier County coastal waters by local residents and visitors has been increasing rapidly in the last 10 years, and there is a growing need to meet this increasing public use.
The new Isles of Capri Park will include public restroom facilities that will also be available to users of the 951 County boat ramp. The lack of restroom facilities at this boat ramp has been a great concern among boaters, especially after a day of fishing and boating.
The new park will also include two pavilions for use by families, picnickers, school groups and summer recreation programs. The park will also serve as an important interpretive site where visitors can learn about the value of protecting some of Collier County’s precious natural resources.
When the project is complete, the state and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s total investment of approximately $4.2 million in this property will be made available to Collier County. The park will be subleased to Collier County’s Parks & Recreation Department to be managed within their parks network.
Ecotourism is a growing and significant economic engine, and this park will be tailored to meet this need, bringing significant returns to the local economy.