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Salinas Park addition ribbon cutting next week

Tim Croft
The Star

The new park amenities have been in use several weeks so cutting a ribbon seems appropriate.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced that a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the addition to Salinas Park is scheduled for 10 a.m. ET Thursday, Jan. 30.

Many Gulf County residents and visitors have already discovered the beauty of the addition.

“The new addition is absolutely amazing,” said resident John Sellers. “The addition is fantastic and many people will enjoy it for years to come.”

The Salinas expansion includes hiking trails and an elevated boardwalk with overlooks on St. Joseph Bay and informational signs focused on preserving seagrasses and the natural resources those who live here sometimes take for granted.

There is a new playground, new pickleball courts, water fountains, misting stations, handicapped-accessible parking and new restrooms.

“It is a beautiful park,” said Assistant County Administrator Warren Yeager. “It will be a showcase for the county and the people who use it for a long time.”

The Salinas Park expansion and amenities were gifted to the county through collaboration with the Trust for Public Land and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The land, just over seven acres, was purchased from the Patronis Family Trust; the Patronis family operates Capt. Anderson’s and has been in the seafood business for generations.

The Trust for Public Land facilitated the purchase of the land and, after public workshops, determined a vision for the new amenities and underwrote and oversaw the project.

The addition was made possible by Deepwater Horizon funds and is part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Phase 2 Florida Coastal Access project.

“The Deepwater Horizon spill impacted Florida’s resources and recreational economy,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “The Salinas Park project is a prime example of how Florida prioritizes partnership and benefits our communities by implementing meaningful investments and maximizing our restoration in the face of disaster.”

The park offers visitors opportunities to experience coastal habitats, learn about the area’s flora and fauna and experience the views of the St. Joseph Bay and the Gulf of Mexico among the tree tops of pines, magnolias and oaks. The park is also home to trail connections and rest stops along the adjacent 8-mile paved Loggerhead Run Bike Path, according to a DEP press release.

“The addition to Salinas Park Bayside is truly an asset that will be utilized by locals and visitors through all seasons,” said Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners Sandy Quinn. “It has truly enhanced our park system.”

The $3.2 million funding for the land acquisition, park improvements and 10 years of operation and maintenance costs were the result of an agreement with BP with the NRDA Trustees to conduct early restoration projects to address injuries resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

This project will enhance and increase public use and enjoyment of natural resources that were severely impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred on April 2010.