BOCA RATON, Fla. - Boaters in Boca Raton worry a new restaurant will threaten nearby Silver Palm Park. Just as word spread that a restaurant may go in next door along the water, concerns mounted over possible parking changes at the park.
Boca Raton only has one public boat launch in the entire city, so boaters are serious about preserving what they have. That includes the 50 parking spaces available.
"Today, it's the middle of the week, count the trailers out there. To take away parking would be ridiculous, especially on a weekend," said fisherman Jim Tully.
When Hillstone Restaurant Group proposed buildings a Houston's restaurant across the bridge, boaters started to worry whether their coveted spaces would disappear.
"They looked and saw, they didn't know this was so sacred. They offered suggestions on how it might be spruced up and the parking," said Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel.
The mere suggestion of changing the parking at the park started what Mayor Whelchel calls a 'firestorm of information." A Facebook page was started to 'save the park' and all of the parking spaces inside. Whelchel says those spots were never in jeopardy.
"We're trying very hard to get the correct info out to the public and that is that nothing will happen to the spots here at the boat launching location," said Mayor Whelchel.
But boaters are still leary of what the new restaurant could bring, and whether they can trust city leaders at their word.
"Put it in writing, post it that it won't change. No restaurant parking on this side of the bridge, then maybe we'll believe," said Tully.
Hillstone Restaurant Group posted a letter on Facebook stating it has no plans to make any changes at Silver Palm Park, especially to the boat ramp or trailer parking.