Rum Island closing indefinitely for renovations

FORT WHITE, Fla. (WCJB) - Rum Island Park in Fort White will be closing indefinitely for renovations starting on Monday, September 9.

The $300,000 project includes new bathrooms to replace the existing porta-potties, as well as restorations to the springs.

“It has been something Columbia County has been talking about doing for years," said Columbia County Board of Commissioners Public Information Officer Paula Vann. "Fortunately, this year Suwannee River Water Management gave us a grant to move forward with it and also the Florida Legislature."

The county decided to wait until after Labor Day weekend to close the park.

“It’s really hard to say that there’s a good time to do it because people visit here year-round, but this is one of the slower seasons for us," said Vann.

The timing is a relief for the owners of the nearby kayak and canoe rental business Rum 138.

“That was really a great decision to wait until after Labor Day," said Doug Jipson, owner of Rum 138. "There was talk that they were going to close the park earlier, and I think a lot of people just voiced their opinion and said, ‘Please don’t,’ and they waited. I think it’s a perfect time.”

Although there’s no set date for when the project should be finished, county officials say the improvements will be worth the wait.

“It is a short-term pain that we have closing it down, but it is a long-term gain,” said Vann.