STOCK ISLAND, FL – Monroe County’s Bernstein Park on Stock Island is looking a lot more like a grassy oasis these days after nearly 3 acres of sod recently was installed.

The new grass is part of the County’s $7.7-million renovation project to turn the park that was prone to flooding into a functional green space the community can enjoy for years to come. Keeping the grass green will be done by using reclaimed water from Key West Resort Utilities.

The new park is scheduled to open at the end of October/early November. The new sod needs several weeks to establish root growth and be ready for athletes. Work also is underway on the parking lot and the interior of the new 6,600-foot community center, which includes a large room and a smaller room for public use, said Monroe County’s interim project management director Cary Knight.

The park’s overhaul includes: multipurpose fields for baseball, softball, soccer and rugby; a playground; basketball court; walking/jogging trail and new field lighting. Future plans include installation of outdoor exercise equipment.

The entire park is about 11 acres, of which 5 ½ acres is wetlands and environmentally protected. A majority of the usable six acres of the park was raised up to two feet to address flooding caused by rains and high tides that have hampered use of the fields. It required about 20,000 cubic yards of additional fill.

The County saved about $200,000 from the original contract by providing the contractor with fill the County had stock-piled over the years from various projects. The County used a portion of the savings to upgrade the quality of the grass. The project is expected to be completed at about $130,000 under budget.

This week, local artists toured Bernstein Park with County Project Manager Johnnie Yongue and Arts Council staff Liz Young and Martha Resk to gain insight and inspiration for their proposals to provide public art for the park.

Based on the 1% for Public Art Ordinance in Monroe County, the park’s public art budget is $49,000. Pre-qualified artists may submit proposals to the Monroe County Art in Public Places Committee, which will make its recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners for its approval. For more information, contact Liz Young at or call 305-295-4369.

And, at its Aug. 16 meeting at the Harvey Government Center in Key West, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners will consider adopting an ordinance that will amend Bernstein Park’s hours to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and provide specific regulations on adults allowed to be inside the playground. These changes were recommended by the Parks and Recreation Board.