Key West’s waterfront park taking shape — finally

Bicyclists enjoy the fresh pavement at the park Tuesday morning.
Bicyclists enjoy the fresh pavement at the park Tuesday morning. Keynoter

Almost two decades in the making, Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park is taking visible shape as an amphitheater, playground and green space await the finishing touches.

“Now you can see it,” said Jim Bouquet, city engineering director, whose department has been working on road issues for the past year or so. “Things are going to move really fast now.”

Bouquet pegged the final cost of the park at under $30 million, far from the original numbers that were bandied about that at one point reached up to twice that figure.

“We have probably spent $22 or $32 million to date,” he said. “What we’re looking at next year for this phase 1-B is probably another $4 million.”

The amphitheater, a 2,400-square-foot band shell large enough to host 3,000 people, has already hosted a country music festival and rocker Eddie Money on New Year’s Eve, and is approaching completion within two weeks.

City staff hopes to open up the central park area, which includes a playground and green space, by early April and a final completion date of what has already been planned is within two years, Bouquet said.

The U.S. Navy handed the property over to the city in 2002. The first part of phase one of the construction is scheduled for completion in June.

On a recent morning, bicyclists and dog walkers enjoyed the freshly paved roads that lead to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center on East Quay Road and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and begin with a traffic circle where new palm trees have been planted.

Much of the new features, including a playground and fields of green grass, remain cordoned off by chain-link fencing. New benches have been installed, along with recycling and trash receptacles. The playground will feature an interactive water fountain.

“It’s actually a child’s play structure,” Bouquet said. “There’s things for kids to climb on and buckets for them to dump water.”

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen