Friday afternoon brings a major milestone in Hurricane Ian recovery: Lowdermilk Park in Naples is reopening.
The beachfront hotspot was left unrecognizable after the storm plowed through, but it has come a long way in five months. Still, visitors this month should not expect the postcard-pristine place they may remember from before Ian. It’s still beautiful, but it’s not the same, and work is still being done.
The only available amenities will be the bathrooms, but regular visitors who spoke to WINK News say they’re OK with that; they’re just glad Lowdermilk is reopening at all.
Naples city workers spent countless hours working on the beach to prepare it to welcome people back. They repaired the concession stand, rounded up picnic tables that were scattered all throughout the area by Ian’s strong winds, and removed heaps of sand and mud.
Naples city workers repairing the Lowdermilk Park concession stand after it was wrecked by Hurricane Ian. Credit: WINK News
“When we got here, we had probably 3 or 4 feet of sand from the beach,” said Chad Merrit, director of Naples Parks and Recreation. “We had a lot of debris… it destroyed the concessions pretty bad.”
Merrit hopes the park and beach reopening will bring visitors some sense of normalcy.
“This is not going to look like Lowdermilk before the storm; we’re going to have to do some major landscaping; we’ve got to come in and replant grass,” Merrit said. “You’re not going to have every amenity, but we did want to provide the parking, we wanted to provide the beach access, and that was our main goal, and trying to do that safely.”
For the first time in months, people won’t be stopped by caution tape and barricades if they try to get to the beach at Lowdermilk Park.