The county is offering several ways to be involved in the new bayside addition to Salinas Park.
The first arrives 10 a.m. ET today with the ribbon-cutting for the addition, with local and state officials on hand for the ceremonial opening (which comes weeks the park was opened to the public).
The second method of involvement is provided by the Gulf County Tourist Development Council which is launching a campaign to name the elevated boardwalk that is the centerpiece of the addition to the county’s park inventory, providing panoramic views of St. Joseph Bay.
The boardwalk includes informational signage regarding local wildlife with a focus on ways in which people can assist in preserving seagrasses and the area’s natural resources and benches for quiet reflection.
“When we started to plan on how we were going to market and promote, we knew we needed a name to designate it and we decided to let the community have a say,” said TDC executive director Kelli Godwin.
“Let’s see what ideas everybody has. (The boardwalk) is on another level. You have to see and walk it to fully appreciate it. We see it as a great addition to our marketing efforts.”
The TDC has placed four signs in the park with a box below each for folks to drop in a suggestion.
In addition, name suggestions may be submitted to email@example.com or by sending a text to 340-1454.
“The contest will last until April 15, so our snowbirds and spring breakers will have a chance to make a suggestion,” Godwin said. “Then we will sift through them and take the best ones to our (advisory) board and then to the (Board of County Commissioners).
“Everybody is excited about that park. We have heard nothing but good things.”
The Salinas Park expansion bayside was gifted to the county through collaboration with the Trust for Public Land and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The Trust for Public Land facilitated the purchase of the land, roughly seven acres, from the Patronis Family Trust, sketched, with public input, a vision for new additions to the park and designed, funded and supervised the project.
The addition was funded with $3.2 million in BP fine dollars stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and was one of the final Phase 2 Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) projects along the Northwest Florida Coast.
In addition to the land and park improvements, the county received 10 years of operation and maintenance costs.
Beyond the elevated boardwalk, the Salinas Park bayside also includes hiking trails, a new playground, new pickleball courts, water fountains, misting stations, bike stations, handicapped-accessible parking and new restrooms.
The park also includes trail connections and rest stops along the eight-mile Loggerhead Run Bike Path adjacent to the park addition.
County officials have lauded the park as a “showcase for years to come.”
“Good job with Salinas Park,” said Dr. Pat Hardman, president of the Coastal Community Association of Gulf County.