The Ocala Wetland Recharge Park plans to add a rest area and pavilion at the recently opened facility.
On Tuesday, the Ocala City Council voted unanimously to accept a $376,880 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the project. The total cost of the 3,600-square-foot pavilion is just more than $471,000. The city will pay the difference.
The Recharge Park, which opened in September, hosts approximately 5,100 visitors a month. And in the same month of its opening, the FDEP awarded the City of Ocala with a Recreation and Trails Grant to construct the 90-foot by 40-foot pavilion.
The pavilion will house water fountains with overhead bottle filling stations and provide shaded cover for existing bathrooms.
It was not clear when construction would start, but the grant guidelines call for the project to be done in the next two years.
The park features a man-made wetland that filters about 3 million gallons of treated wastewater from the city every day. The aquatic plants in the park’s holding cells scrub out any leftover nitrogen and phosphorus compounds still in the water and allows it to slowly percolate into the Floridan Aquifer, which is the state’s main source of drinking water. The park has a capacity to handle 5 million gallons per day.
Originally set to open in late 2019, the city had to deal with multiple cave-ins at the site. As the holding cells were filled with water, the enormous weight caused cave-ins that drained the cells. Eventually, the ground stabilized.
The park, located at 2105 NW 21 St., features more than 2.5 miles of trails and has a growing wildlife population. It is open from sunrise to sunset or 7 p.m., whichever comes first.