By Tamas Mondovics
It is safe to say that the boat ramp at Riverview Park and Civic Center located on the Alafia River on 11020 Park Dr. in Riverview, is easily one of the County’s most used, year-round recreation spots.
For this reason, the County’s recent decision to schedule a month-long $120,000 renovation is bitter sweet news for local residents and boaters who make use of the ramp especially during the summer months.
According to county officials, beginning Monday, June 8, the boat ramp along with the civic center and restrooms will be closed for renovations funded by the boater’s fund to improve the site for the boating community and is scheduled to reopen on Monday, June 22.
The renovations include repaving and striping the parking lot as well as adding shell to the overflow parking areas to mitigate maintenance issues.
“This is a great location and is used by many local boaters,” said Riverview residents and longtime boater, Jene Heide, who regularly uses the ramp when boating on the Alafia River. “It’s very friendly out here. Boaters are always willing to help one another when needed.”
Heide agreed that the ramp is very busy, especially on holidays and could use an upgrade such as expending the parking lot, which was clearly filled to capacity on Memorial Day weekend.
Besides its boat ramp, the Riverview Civic Center and Park includes a playground, picnic area, fishing dock and a community center.
It has a pavilion and an outdoor grill. The civic center is host of several clubs during the month and is available for event such as high school graduation parties or wedding receptions.
The park’s timely renovation is also a good excuse to remind boaters of the importance of boating safety during this summer season.
The Memorial Day holiday weekend is regarded as the unofficial start to the summer boating season and one of the year’s busiest boating weekends.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, last year 581 crashes, about one-in-seven nationwide, took place in Florida.
Those crashes resulted in 70 fatalities statewide, including 12 deaths blamed on drunk boaters.
“The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office wants to emphasize the use of life jackets and safety equipment while boating in a safe and responsible manner,” said HCSO Public Information Officer Larry McKinnon.
“Along with the use of life jackets, HCSO wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating and consider the effects of drinking and driving,” he said, adding that in a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increases because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun.
“We want to remind boaters that operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Florida, and that the goal of the Sheriff’s Office is to ensure that boaters have a safe and enjoyable time on the waters,” Mckinnon said.
Questions regarding boating safety or boating laws, visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website: www.myfwc.com/RULESANDREGS/Rules_Boat.htm. Information on accident statistics, visit www.uscgboating.org/library/accident-statistics/Recreational-Boating-Statistics-2014.pdf.
For more information about the Riverview boat ramp please visit www.HillsboroughCounty.org/ParksHillsborough County, or call the Parks and Recreation office at 672-6029.