Boardwalk to stretch farther at Cooter Pond

Published Sept. 21, 2006|Updated Sept. 22, 2006

The elevated boardwalk frequented by fishermen and nature watchers at Cooter Pond Park will greatly expand under a plan the City Council approved Tuesday night.

The $300,000 proposed project will at least double the length of the boardwalk over the western and northern edges of the pond.

It will stretch from the current gazebo behind the Citrus County Sheriff's Office to the end of Mill Avenue, near the edge of Wallace Brooks Park and the Withlachoochee State Trail.

The project is being funded with $225,000 in state grant money and $75,000 from the city. It is scheduled to start in early 2007 after the city obtains the necessary state permits.

Once completed, about two months later, the park will feature two fishing piers, three picnic tables, small playground equipment, a canoe launch and bike racks.

City officials have worked to beautify the pond and surrounding area near the southern entrance to downtown Inverness for nearly a decade.

"Cooter Pond was the first thing you see when you come in and we wanted to clean it up and then try to develop it somehow," said Pati Smith, director of parks and recreation.

Early phases of the project included clearing the vegetation that once nearly covered the water surface.

Low water levels this summer have kept the city from hiring an aquatic harvester to clear more plant life.

Also, water levels caused the fountain in the center of the pond to get clogged with weeds. Last week, city officials used a crane to take out the fountain's water pump so they can send it away for repairs.

The boardwalk expansion project has at least one critic. Richard Demeritt of Inverness spoke critically of the project at the end of Tuesday's council meeting, saying taxpayers dollars could be better spent elsewhere. "I don't care if it's a dime's worth (of taxpayer money), there are other places in the city in dire straits," he said.

Demeritt said he often passes by the park and rarely sees anyone on the boardwalk. Building more, he said, is just an attempt to impress people who drive by on State Road 44.

John Frank can be reached at or 860-7312.