Boynton Beachers to see a renovated Sara Sims Park in about a year

Sara Sims Park is expected to get a much-needed $1.3 million fixing up by August 2019.

The park is in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, the Heart of Boynton, and has been mostly neglected for years. Some residents don’t even refer to it by its name, instead calling it “hole in the wall.” It’s at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard just west of Seacrest Boulevard.

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The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday released an updated project timeline to redevelop the park. This came after several workshops and after city and CRA staff worked on plans since at least January.

The bid process to find a developer will start in September. Construction should start in January, and should be finished by August 2019.

Improvements at the park include: three small pavilions and one large one; a pre-engineered restroom building; site lighting; benches; parking; walkways or fitness paths; decorative concrete pavement; landscaping; irrigation; signs; garbage bins; and decorative aluminum fencing.

Each pavilion will have a hose bib, picnic table, grills and garbage bins.

Mayor Steven Grant previously proposed building homes in a portion of the park, but most residents opposed that, and the idea has not moved forward.

Grant said the approved changes will bring the park into the 21st century. He added that the park also will have cell phone charging stations.

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“It is important to the community because for such a long time the park has been left in disrepair,” Grant said.

The park also will have security features such as cameras. An amphitheater is in the park’s future, according to CRA documents.

Improving the park is one of the ways the city and CRA are working to improve quality of life and increase affordable housing in the Heart of Boynton. In addition to the park:

  • The CRA in May requested developers send in ideas on how to redevelop more than 4 acres off Seacrest Boulevard just north of Boynton Beach Boulevard. The land, between Northeast Fourth and Fifth avenues, is known as the Cottage District. Developers have until Tuesday to submit plans. The top three will present to the CRA board. The CRA hopes to have a contract signed in September.
  • Ocean Breeze East, about 4.3 acres on Seacrest Boulevard just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, might finally get developed with affordable apartments after being vacant for more than a decade. Centennial Management received approval from the state to be given 9 percent tax credits for the project but competitors have had a chance to protest that decision. The company expects to know a final answer this month.

Follow Boynton Beach reporter Alexandra Seltzer on Twitter at @alexseltzer

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