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New park opens along Florida’s Manatee River with trails, art and focus on water quality Read more

Palmetto has a scenic new park along the Manatee River that also plays a role in boosting local water quality.

Connor Park, which has been in the works for several years, features a walking trail, a public art installation and a stormwater pond that uses a natural treatment process to promote clean water. The park opened to the public in April.

“That is one of my favorite projects that we’ve done because it ties an opportunity for the community to really enjoy it, but it’s also such an environmental process that has been created there,” said Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant. “The end result is beautiful, but everything has a purpose.”

The retention pond at Connor Park is capable of retaining 500,000 gallons of stormwater runoff. As the pond system fills up, water overflows through a channel of wetlands filled with native Florida plants that absorb contaminants that can be harmful to water quality, such as nitrogen, before they enter the river. Reducing the amount of harmful nutrients in the water has been hailed by local environmental groups as one of the best ways to combat harmful algae blooms like red tide. The park at 505 Fifth St. W., Palmetto, sits on 1.7 acres along the railroad track that connects Bradenton to the south. A walking trail circles the main pond. There are boardwalks, educational signage and a community pavilion on the site.