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Landscaping crowns I-75 mound at Celery Fields Recreation Area

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Am I the last one to notice that the mound got a mohawk?
I’m talking about the old pile of dirt near Fruitville Road in the Celery Fields Recreation Area. It used to be a grassy lump, but now there’s a thicket of landscaping that look likes a mohawk from I-75.
Up close, it’s impressive.
What seemed like a thin line turns out to be more than $350,000 worth of trees and shrubs.
celeryfieldmoundThere are hundreds of cabbage palms and slash pines, along with live oaks that could shade mound visitors for years to come.
Years ago, I used to make fun of the Celery Fields park, because it was less than beautiful and more than close to the interstate and an industrial park.
Maybe I lacked vision. Now all that’s changing. Now it will be less of an odd mound and more of a forested hillside.
Now I can’t wait to plan a high-rise picnic under one of those oaks.

Rainy interview
When I pulled off the highway to check out this mohawk, it started raining pretty hard. I should have known that there would still be people walking, running or biking the mound trails. The Celery Fields attract birders, neighborhood folks and the hardest of hard-core Sarasotans. Sure enough, an older lady carrying a small dog made a a run for her truck. A younger lady in knee socks finished her run with a sprint to her car. And there was Jim Miller, standing outside his SUV in a rain slicker. He looked pretty cool, ignoring the downpour while we talked about hiking and biking all over the state of Florida.
I felt like an idiot sitting in my car, so I finally grabbed an umbrella to do a cool video interview in the pouring rain. Then it stopped raining. Ah, well.
Miller was less enthusiastic than me, but he likes the landscaping.
“I’ve been watching it going up,” he said. “I guess it makes it a little prettier. If it helps prevent erosion, that’d be good. And it might attract more people than a barren landscape.”

Up-and-down mound

The Celery Fields landscaping project will be completed by Oct. 14.

“We’ve gotten nothing but positive comments,” says Paul Semenec, the county project manager. “People are amazed. It’s quite a destination.” Each May, hundreds of people show up at the mound for Dirty Duo obstacle course races. On many other weekends, it’s lonely and quiet.
Angled paths curve up and around the mound, but some people run sprints straight up and down.
For Miller, it’s more like walking several flights of stairs, but with fresh air and scenery.
“I’d rather work out outside,” he said, peeking up at the sky. “I thought I might beat the rain, but that didn’t happen.”

 

 

Last modified: October 10, 2013
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