The Board of County Commissioners were given a comprehensive overview on the progress of the Ft. Hamer Rowing Training facility at Tuesday's joint work meeting with Longboat Key commissioners in the county administration building. County Planner Dave Gustafson said construction of the project is on schedule.
Paul Blackketter, Project Manager for the Nathan Benderson Park rowing facility outlined the three phases of development. In order to hold world-class events, the Benderson Park rowing course needs to be at least 2,000 meters. When that is completed, the center will be able to apply to the NCAA to host national rowing championships and international competitions.
Several college rowing teams including Harvard University have already inquired about using the facility as their practice venue. The potential economic impact when completed could be up to $25 million a year according to Mr. Blackketter.
Bob Whitford who has an outstanding reputation in the rowing world has recently been hired as the Benderson Park Operations Facility Manager. In order to raise the approximate $10 million needed to construct a boat house, grandstands and towers at the facility, the Suncoast Aquatic and Nature Center foundation has been created.