Lovers Key State Park construction ramps up as park fully opened
After being shut down in March during the COVID-19 pandemic and undergoing a partial reopening in May, all aspects of Lover’s Key State Park are now opened and accessible.
All of the trails are now open, kayak rentals are available and tram service has been restored. Access to Fort Myers Beach is also open.
Visitors returning for the first time in several months will notice the massive construction at the state park of a concrete welcome and discovery center. The $4 million building, set on the banks overlooking the water, is expected to open next year. The roof will be going up sometime in the next week, said
Lovers Key State Park Manager Katie Moses.
Workers began clearing the site for the building back in January. The building is located at the end of the rear parking lots.
The construction of the building is funded by the state parks service with the furnishing of the inside of the building with educational exhibits the responsibility of the Friends of Lovers Key. The group has targeted $1.5 million of fundraising for the inside. The plans include an observation teaching deck, community room, kitchen, classrooms, manatee sculpture, fish shack, bookstore and interactive exhibits. The two-floor welcome and discovery center will also have a 300-foot ADA-compliant ramp.
Moses expects the construction of the building to be completed by the end of the year and is hopeful the inside exhibits will be ready sometime in 2021.
In addition to the construction of the center, Moses said sewer lines will be constructed that will also provide for flushed toilets at the existing main restroom. Currently, that restroom utilizes a septic system with mulch and bacteria. “Our visitation is exceeding what it’s meant to handle,” Moses said.
Lovers Key State Park is considered to be one of the most heavily traffic state parks in the state. Traffic to the park during the pandemic has been “really good,” Moses said. “Our visitation is higher than normal this time of year. It’s nice to see people are getting outside and enjoying nature.”
The higher-than-normal traffic has caught park staff a bit off-guard. “We’re kind of surprised,” Moses said. Sea turtles have also been enjoying the park, with 51 nests and 79 false crawls recorded as of July 3.
For those looking to visit the park, its hours of operation are 8 a.m. to sunset, seven days a week.