A bulldozer was parked behind the line of gold shovels, the symbol that progress is about to begin on a $6.2 million riverfront park that includes amenities designed to attract the city's residents but also to bring the national spotlight to Bradenton.
Dale Weidemiller, project manager, described the Riverwalk at Rossi Park as a "game changer for downtown."
"We will get each and every person in the city downtown at least once a week," he said. "This was designed by you. We took your concepts and put them together in this park."
Weidemiller said that the rowing facilities coming to the park will continue to bring national attention to Bradenton for its commitment to rowing and creating the best competition courses and events.
Skaters have also promised regional and national attention now that designs for a state-of-the-art skatepark are nearing completion. The skaters helped design the park, and with its proximity to Sarasota, the beaches and the Tampa Bay area, they believe that they will draw both regional and national competitions to the area.
The park will also include public arts, arts festivals, and an amphitheater, all of which will be regional draws, Weidemiller promised. He also went on to promise an extremely clean park, featuring volunteer ambassadors, designed to make Riverwalk at Rossi Park "the Disney of the west coast," he said, drawing a few laughs and lots of applause.
Monday's turnout for the groundbreaking certainly seemed to indicate that Bradenton residents will be drawn to the park. Hundreds of residents came out for the morning's celebration, which included a band, a breakfast buffet, hundreds of people and even some of their pets using the park.