Transformation of Phipps Park
Prior to its renovation, Phipps Park had a steep shoreline slope with no access to the Okeechobee waterway, 35 traditional primitive campsites, and 24 20-amp electric sites, all installed by FEMA during the 2006 hurricanes when the park was being used for FEMA housing.
Currently, Phipps Park has full access to the waterway with a paved hiking trail, 2 docks, 99 full-service RV sites with sewer, water, and electric, and 19 waterfront Adventure Tents. This transformation was made possible thanks to assistance provided by the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND), through grants awarded in 2015, 2016 and 2019, totaling approximately $700,000.
The Florida Inland Navigation District is the state agency responsible for maintaining the Intracoastal Waterway navigation channel in the 12 counties on the east coast of Florida. One of the key roles of FIND is to assist governments in the development of waterway accesses and related improvement projects (boat ramps, docks, fishing piers, shoreline erosion).
The Renovations at Phipps Park have been completed in several phases:
- In 2018, 1,800 feet of shoreline were graded and stabilized with a paved walking pathway along the shoreline. In addition, a fishing pier was built, 51 trees were transplanted, and 28 RV sites were created that provided 50-amp electrical service.
- In 2019, the boat ramp was completely renovated, making it accessible with new docks and a ramp.
- In 2020, the county built 19 adventure platform tents in the Stormwater Treatment Area and renovated the small restroom.
- In 2022, the remaining 800 feet of shoreline were stabilized with a paved walking path and a new floating boat dock along the shoreline. The previous overhead electrical lines and poles were removed throughout the park, and new electrical was installed at each of the 98 RV sites. Lighting was also added to the roadway around the park. Septic-to-sewer conversion was completed with sewer hook-ups at each site. Water service was also added to each RV site. The roadway and each RV site were graded with drainage areas, and the roadway was resurfaced with millings. Landscaping and irrigation were added throughout the park, with 143 new native oak and pine trees planted and 94 transplanted sabal palms. Additionally, the county adopted a new online reservation platform for Phipps Park through Reserve America, which was launched on November 22, 2022, when the park reopened to the public. As part of this phase, the county is waiting on the delivery and installation of the electrical pedestals for sites 25–99. They are expected to be installed before June 2023.
- In 2023, the design of a new building with restrooms, showers, laundry and an added maintenance shop and storage is going out for bid. WiFi access and front gate security cameras will also be added to the park in 2023.
- A new General Store building with a BBQ/social deck, campfire area and caretaker’s residence on the second story has been designed. Construction is estimated to start in 2024.
Phipps Park renovations - community impact:
Martin County and its residents will benefit from these improvements in many ways:
- Environmentally, from the conversion of septic to sewer, the removal of exotics and the planting of native trees and shrubs.
- Recreationally, the shoreline improvements provide public access to the waterways with new docks, boat ramp, walking path along the shoreline and additional camping opportunities.
- Resiliency comes from the hardening of the infrastructure, shoreline stabilization and grading of the roadway.