PALM HARBOR — Construction of the new Wall Springs Observation Tower, which is replacing the tower that was destroyed by arson on September 11, 2013, was well underway Monday at the park in Palm Harbor. Construction on the tower began in October 2014 and is expected to take approximately six months.
Picnic shelters 3, 4 and 5 have been closed, along with the entire west side of the park during the construction period and the small fishing pier located on Boggy Bayou has also be closed.
Paul Cozzie, Director of Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources, said once the main structure is completed there will be a second phase of construction to make the tower ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant, with the addition of a wheelchair ramp that could move the completion date into the fall of 2015. Cozzie also said the tower is being treated with a fire retardant spray.
The 210-acre park is anchored by its historical, natural spring, once used as a spa and bathing area, complete with a viewing area, boardwalk and a connection to the Pinellas Trail.
The park has a covered, barrier-free playground, boardwalks, nature trails and a 35-foot observation tower for a scenic view of the Gulf of Mexico, where wildlife is abundant, including squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, reptiles and birds that live around Boggy Bayou.
According to Pinellas County, the property in and around Wall Springs was purchased by Charles F. Wall on February 28, 1884 and remained in his family until May 17, 1927, when the property was sold to Harry W. Davis.
The springs source is the Upper Floridian Aquifer and has a flow that varies from zero during drought to a high of 7,405 gallons per minute. During periods of high rainfall, as much as 10.7 million gallons of water can flow from the spring in one day, according to the county.
The spring water temperature remains at a nearly constant 74 degrees. Swimming is not allowed in the spring because of the danger to the ecosystem.
The spring became known as "Wall Springs" during ownership by the Wall family. Once the property was sold to the Davis family, the spring became known as "Health Springs" and was used as a health spa. When the property was purchased by the Cullen Family on February 6, 1948 the spring name changed back to "Wall Springs" and the area was used as a recreational area until the mid - 1960s.
The spring and adjoining pond were used as a spa and bathing area from the turn of the 20th century until the mid '60s.
Pinellas County began acquiring the Wall Springs property in 1988, with the initial purchase of approximately 63 acres that included the spring and surrounding area. The county has continued to acquire additional property since its initial purchase, with the most recent acquisitions having been made in December 2008 and April, 2009. Wall Springs is now approximately 210 acres in total size.