The city is rebuilding six of the seven aged, wooden bridges connecting Venetian Gardens’ various islands. Work began Tuesday to fence off an area between the center of the park to the western-most entrance near Ski Beach and Lakeshore Drive.
The project initially will rebuild three bridges on the west side of Venetian Gardens. Construction for that phase should last until early May. Most of Venetian Gardens will be accessible during that time from Dozier Circle. Work on three of the four eastern bridges closest to Dozier will begin in late May, when that part of the park will be partially fenced.
The bridge accessing Martin Luther King Jr. Island from Dozier will not need to be rebuilt. The eastern-most part of Venetian Gardens including the boat ramp, marina, the Leesburg Community Center and Pat Thomas Stadium will remain open for visitors.
The project could last until August although Leesburg expects to have much of the park open for the city’s big Fourth of July holiday celebration and fireworks. The city contracted the project to Leesburg-based Leware Construction Co. for a cost not to exceed $339,000.
Workers will use a small barge and other equipment to take down the existing bridges and replace pilings. Wooden decks and hand rails will be replaced with more durable and weather-resistant composite materials.
“We are fortunate to have a local company to do the work and keep funding here for local jobs,” said Leesburg City Commissioner Bill Polk.
Venetian Gardens – originally created in the 1930s - is located at 201 E. Dixie Ave. along the north shore of Lake Harris. The historic park features tranquil, meandering canals surrounding six islands and is popular for public events and recreational activities.
Leesburg is a progressive city of more than 20,000 residents in northwest Lake County. The city government serves twice as many people with its electric, gas, water, wastewater and fiber-optic public utilities. Leesburg also is a central hub for commerce, attracting 50,000 people to work each weekday.