NewsHillsborough County


Popular boat ramp now ADA compliant, allowing local teen more time on the water

Posted at 4:40 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 18:28:29-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla — A popular boat ramp in Tampa is back open after it got some major upgrades.

Williams Park Boat ramp was closed for more than 2 years as Hillsborough County crews ripped out the old docks, and put in new, ADA compliant docks that float.

For Greg Leonard and his 15-year-old son David, it’s been worth the wait.

"For him it’s a form of therapy, I see it as a form of therapy for him,” said Leonard.

David has a neurological disorder and is wheelchair bound. He can’t talk or walk on his own. He and his dad go out for boating trips nearly every weekend but say it takes at least two people to get David into the boat.

"Sometimes in the winter time you’re looking at 3 to 4 foot drop from the dock itself to the deck of the boat,” he said.

Jason Chilson with Hillsborough County realizes how dangerous that is.

"Very hard to do and very unsafe,” he said.

Chilson spoke frequently with Greg as the new boat docks were installed. He says they are paid for by money generated from boat registration fees.

“[Williams Park boat ramp] is the second busiest in Hillsborough County,” said Chilson. “We get over 12,000 launches a year out here."

Chilson thinks the upgrades will encourage more people to get on the water. Greg and David will be definitely make more trips not just because of convenience but because it brings his son so much joy.

"He just enjoys being on the water and I like seeing the smile on his face and just getting him outside to get some fresh wind on his face,” he said.

The county has plans to work on other boat ramps throughout the county next.