A cleaned-up spring and new bathrooms are the highlights of a renovated Rum Island Park that was introduced Tuesday morning ceremony by Columbia County commissioners and others.
The popular park on the Santa Fe River was closed for about a year while the $300,000 project was underway.
“It looks so good. The (spring) bank looks really nice and pretty,” said Lindsey Garland, spokeswoman for the Suwannee River Water Management District. “They added grass for stabilization, so that looks very good.”
The district kicked in $150,000 for the work. The county got another $150,000 in legislative appropriations and contributed some in-kind services.
One new feature some people might not like is an entrance fee. Rum Island had been free but a $5 per car fee is now charged. Annual passes can be purchased.
The 44-acre park off County Road 138 near Fort White includes includes a boat ramp, picnic area and open space. Kayakers often use the park to launch, take-out or to visit the spring.
Rum Island’s spring is directly on the Santa Fe and can become brown depending on river levels. Other popular springs in the region are set off the river and generally remain clear except during flooding.
Previously, the park had portable toilets. State money was used to build a bathroom facility.
The SRWMD portion was used to build an advanced treatment unit for the septic system to reduce wastewater nutrients in the drainfield.
District money was also used to remove sediment from the spring pool and reuse it to stabilize the bank, Garland said.
“We ended up using natural materials, which is something we were happy about,” Garland said.
Wooden railings were replaced and metal staircases into the spring were built.