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A city Gas, Water and Wastewater Department employee took this photo of a damaged landscaping bed in the parking lot of the new canoe launch off Jackson Road and Cox Creek Parkway in Florence. [COURTESY PHOTO]

FLORENCE — City officials have decided to close the new canoe/kayak launch area of Jackson Road and Cox Creek Parkway until improvements to the new parking lot have been completed.

Gas,Water/Wastewater Department Manager Mike Doyle said he is more frustrated than angry about several instances of damage reported at the Cypress Creek Canoe & Kayak Access Area.

What's frustrating is the project has not been completed, Doyle said.

The department posted a photo Sunday on its Facebook page showing damage to a landscaping bed in the parking lot built for kayak and canoe enthusiasts who like to launch their vessels near the bridge over Cypress Creek.

In addition, Doyle said a new fire hydrant was apparently backed over and damaged, and people have been backing off the asphalt where a contractor is landscaping according to city guidelines.

Doyle said he doesn't know if the damage was caused by vandalism or an accident.

"I don't know what to do about the landscaping beds," Doyle said. "We have another contract to put a wood rail fence around the parking lot."

The fence, he said, will keep people from driving off the edge of the parking lot. He said city officials are thinking about adding "bollards," or thick posts, to protect landscaping islands, and adding concrete parking stops to protect the wood fence.

The Rogers group and various subcontractors are paving, striping and landscaping the parking lot at a cost of $161,157, Doyle said. The additional fence will cost $9,939.32.

"I don’t know the cost of repairing the landscaping, but I am asking the contractor to help since they still have work to complete," Doyle said.

City spokeswoman Rachel Koonce said the contractor must follow city guidelines regarding parking lot landscaping.

"We want to make sure it's done properly," Koonce said. "That's why we're following the same rules everyone else does."

Doyle said the city wants people using the area to be aware of their surroundings and to be careful.

"We're just trying to make it nice for everybody," he said of the parking lot.

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