The long awaited opening of the boat ramps is now here.
The town of Windermere announced the opening of the Orange County boat ramps, including the three located within the town's limits, on Tuesday, March 21.
The three ramps located in Windermere include the Orange County public Lake Down ramp, the resident-only ramp at Fernwood Park (Lake Butler) and the resident-only ramp at Lake Bessie.
The boat ramps closed following Hurricane Ian at the end of September 2022. The town championed a “No Wake Lake” zone with its counterparts in the county government to help prevent additional damage.
Orange County then issued a precautionary lake advisory following Hurricane Nicole in November 2022. Citizens were asked to refrain from any recreational activity in the waters and refrain from any contact with water bodies until further notice.
However, as the boat ramps remained closed still in February 2023, residents began to express concerns.
Now, those who are residents of Windermere and wish to use the town's boat ramps will need a boat pass, which can be purchased at the town administration building, located at 614 Main St.
Residents can purchase a pass beginning Tuesday, March 28. Passes are $35.
The passes will include, a key to the Lake Bessie ramp and a unique code to the Fernwood Park ramp, and/or pedestrian gate.
Due to the town anticipating a high volume of park pass purchases over the next two weeks, town officials are recommending residents come prepared to purchase the passes with paperwork, proof of residence and payment.
The park pass paperwork can be found here.
According to the town, passes are not discounted if access to only one ramp is desired. In addition, there is no charge for residents wishing to obtain a Fernwood pedestrian gate code only.
In an email sent out to the town on Wednesday, March 22, Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden said: "Commercial boats cannot use our ramps for entrance or picking up individuals from the town docks. Please report any issues to the WPD as soon as possible."
Ogden said the WPD will begin utilizing off-duty officers this weekend.
Those who have any questions in regards to the passes can email [email protected] or call (407) 876-2563 Ext. 5327.