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Park runs late; blame it on wetlands

The park at the end of the Landmark Drive extension, Lake Chautauqua Park, is still in the works, but the discovery of wetlands on the property has delayed its completion nearly two years.

The city parks department originally hoped to have the 40-acre park finished in November 1996. Delays have pushed the latest estimated completion date for the $400,000 project to September.

When the park is done, it will have a half-mile, two-lane road winding through woods to the lake, where there will be picnic tables, nature trails and a place to launch canoes and other non-motorized boats.

The park will be open only during the day. Restrooms will not be built right away and a boat dock may be added later, said Art Kader, Clearwater's assistant parks and recreation director.

Depending on the cost, there may or may not be a sidewalk beside the two-lane road for joggers, walkers, cyclists and skaters.

Kader said the walking trails will not have signs pointing out types of plants or animals and no fence will enclose the property. Those things cost money and take more personnel to keep up.

"It's a park on a budget," Kader said.

He expects the park to be used mostly by people who live nearby. He said it also will be an appealing oasis for people who work nearby and want a quiet place to eat lunch, away from U.S. 19 and McMullen-Booth Road.

Lots of people already are using the extension of Landmark Drive south of Enterprise to walk, run and skate, said Carl Wortham, secretary of the Country Park Homeowners Association.

The extension is blocked to traffic just south of a new subdivision that is being built on the east side of the road. Work has begun to clear lots for the 30-house subdivision, said developer Barry J. Vogel.

Vogel said the houses will cost $160,000 or more.

Kader said the discovery of wetlands has slowed the permitting process, bringing into question where the road may be located and what type of drainage the road must have.

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