September 03, 2016
Bonita building new Imperial River paddlecraft launch
Kayakers, canoers and paddleboaraders on the Imperial River won’t have to climb down a slippery sandy, grassy embankment to climb aboard their craft anymore.
It is all part of a $56,300 project to renovate all the docks and launch area by Riverside Park in Bonita Springs.
“It was just in need of replacement,” said Nicole Perino, parks and recreation director for the city of Bonita Springs. “We did reconfigure it to make it more of a canoe, kayak, paddleboard launch. It will have a floating dock that is made with composite material that will be more conducive. It will make it a lot safer. Before it was a boat dock. Now we have transformed it into more of what we do down there. We are very excited about it.”
Construction by Nelson Marine began this week and is expected to be complete by mid-September.
Ben Nelson, owner of Nelson Marine Construction, had the lowest bid so his company was selected to do the work.
“We took all the docks in the water that were left over and we removed all that,” Nelson said. “We will be rebuilding the deck area to a 10-foot by 16-foot deck, building it to the right grades so you don’t have such a big step down there and also putting in a dual kayak launch. It will be a lot easier for people to get in and out of their kayaks.”
Even with the new launch, Nelson said, there will still be plenty of dock space for boaters to tie up their boats.
The launch runs along the Imperial River by Riverside Park. Boaters can tie up their vessels and enjoy the park area and the old fish houses that are now tiny shops and galleries.
Happy to see
Calusa Ghost Tours runs the paddlecraft concession by that launch.
John Paeno, owner of CGT, is happy to see the work being done.
In the past he and his partner, Aaron Thomas, had to climb down the embankment and hold the kayak or paddleboard steady and then help clients into their craft.
The new launch will allow people to step right from the floating dock into their kayak or onto their paddleboard. There will be a handle for people to hold on to as they get in and out of their paddlecraft.
“It makes it safer for everybody,” Paeno said. “I don’t know that it will help business, but it does make it safer for everybody. The docks were rotting they were getting old pieces falling off. We were nervous that someone would get hurt on it. It is just a matter of it was time to do this.”