Back in October, I wrote that the short-term prospects for Lake Park's infrastructure were grim, and that the long-term implications for its future didn't seem much brighter. I thought, looking back, that the tone of that piece was perhaps unduly bleak; I have seen in recent months, for instance, the floodwaters recede from the main paved roadway bisecting the park, enough to allow for easy access by motor vehicles.
Forgive me for not capturing the current state of the road on film, as my camera is currently uncooperative. But if you click back to that October entry, you'll note that the road was almost completely underwater beyond the turn-off to the playground. Currently (as of January 8), the water is gone from all but the shoulders where the road dips close to the lakes on either side. The ground alongside the road is completely saturated still, in places resembling a quicksand-like morass, and denying access to benches, dirt trails, and other lakeside nooks off the "beaten path."
The pavement looks faded and dry and cracked, and as if covered with a thin layer of white dust. A ranger at the front gate informed me that some potholes caused by the flooding were repaired, but more may appear in the future, as the full extent of destabilization isn't known.
While the improved conditions are certainly welcome, especially in this cooler, dryer season, the coming months do not bode well for the road. I know, I'm sliding back into this pessimistic, ominous mode, but it's difficult to see how conditions won't be worse by June or July. The ranger I spoke to cited the presence of St. Joseph's Hospital on Van Dyke Road, and the effect of its massive asphalt parking lots on drainage within Lake Park, essentially the same diagnosis I received from another ranger last fall. Ongoing difficulties with the city of St. Petersburg (which curiously owns the land the park sits on), and their reluctance to use pumps to drain the water were mentioned also.
Looking at the big picture, no one seems to know exactly how the situation will develop, only that the roads will almost certainly be re-flooded once the rains start in earnest.
So, it was nice to see the roads cleared and (relatively) dry. It was a beautiful Sunday in the park in Northdale (in January, no less!). Regardless, my brain can't help but "drift" toward the summer months and lament that, as the days heat up, the water will most surely rise - and put Lake Park back in the same predicament it faced last fall.
Here's my post on Lake Park from October: