TAMPA — Roy Gallinar never puts his boat in at the public ramp on Gandy Boulevard on a weekend. The reason is simple.
"Because you can't,'' he said.
The parking lot at the Salty Sol Fleischman boat ramp fills up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, said Gallinar, having just retrieved his boat there on a moderately busy weekday afternoon. The 85-year-old Tampa native remembers when it wasn't so crowded.
Pete Perez of Cata-Marine Inc., a boat service center on West Shore Boulevard, said it does get crazy on Saturdays and Sundays.
"On a good weekend, you'll have them parking on the grass and everywhere else,'' he said.
Work is under way, however, to try to relieve the congestion. Hillsborough County is spending $400,000 in capital improvement funds raised from boater registration fees to expand the parking lot by 31 truck and trailer spaces. Currently, the lot has 20 car parking spaces and 90 truck and trailer spaces.
Construction crew members were busy this week working over a swath of dirt at the east end of the lot. It is expected to be ready by the first part of July, said county spokeswoman Jennifer Hall.
The ramp is named for the colorful local sportscaster who was rarely seen without his trademark fishing captain's hat. Fleischman, a broadcaster for decades on radio and television, died in 2000.
Workers began clearing the site in late March and are expected to start repaving and marking parking spaces after Memorial Day weekend. They also will improve drainage in the boat wash area.
Gallinar said the improvements will help, but he doesn't expect them to solve the problem.
"There will be more room, but it'll fill up, too.''