The 9/11 Memorial stands unfinished at the entrance to Madeira Beach on Tom Stuart Causeway. City Manager Shane Crawford got approval from the Madeira Beach City Commission to spend city funds to complete the project.
MADEIRA BEACH – The city of Madeira Beach has taken control of the partially finished 9/11 Memorial at Causeway Park.
The project, which began nearly two years ago as an ambitious effort to honor the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, has struggled toward completion in recent months.
Cash infusions and donations from the city have from the start aided fundraising efforts by the all-volunteer committee who conceived, planned and has managed the financing of the project. The fundraisers have brought in an impressive amount of cash and in-kind contributions, but the job has come to a standstill recently.
City Manager Shane Crawford told the City Commission Feb. 26 that the time had come for the city to take charge of the memorial project and get it completed.
Crawford praised the ad hoc committee for their fundraising efforts in the past. But he said “they are running out of funds and don’t have enough money to finish.” Without the city’s intervention, “this memorial will go (uncompleted) for more years,” he said.
Crawford estimated another $40,000 is needed to finish the job. That money is available from the city’s general fund and can be allocated now, he said. Crawford recommended the commission approve the expense, saying the unfinished memorial “is an eyesore in your city and it’s not going to be completed anytime soon unless you act.”
“We’re not going to tear it down, so we have to finish it,” Crawford said.
Completing the job would take a significant amount of time without assistance, he added.
Crawford said the ad hoc memorial committee “is not aware of my plan to have the city take this over.”
Most commission members backed Crawford’s request. Commissioner Nancy Hodges said the city should go ahead and get the memorial completed.
“There’s nothing like it anywhere nearby,” she said.
Hodges predicted the finished memorial would draw many visitors who will patronize the city’s motels, restaurants and attractions.
“Get it finished,” agreed Commissioner Terry Lister.
But Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde said the city had already loaned the committee $40,000, and the memorial project would now wind up costing the taxpayers around $75,000 or more.
Crawford replied the city still has $10,000 to $20,000 of the original loan to the committee available and would hope to return about $10,000 to $15,000 of that back when the project is completed.
“We will not touch the remainder of the loan,” he said.
The city will get the finances of the job in order, Crawford promised.
“Every purchasing rule has been violated in this project,” he said.
Crawford said the city would be using cheaper materials than planned and take other steps to reduce the cost of the project. Activities such as the city’s Fourth of July celebration, which has contributed funding to the memorial in the past, is planned again this year, he said.
Mayor Travis Palladeno and Commissioners Lister and Hodges agreed by consensus to have the city take over the 9/11 memorial and get it completed. Vander Velde was opposed. Commissioner Nancy Oakley was absent from the meeting.
Crawford thanked the commission and said, “We are going to finish the project with the money you are appropriating. Consider it done.”
Public boat docks at John’s Pass
The lack of public boat dockage at John’s Pass is the No. 1 complaint heard at city hall, Crawford said.
“They want to know, ‘Why can’t I take my boat to John’s Pass?’” he said.
The commission took the first step toward remedying that situation by authorizing an application for $20,000 in grant money to begin permitting for the docks, which would be located near the bell tower.
Central Services Director Dave Marsicano said the cost to build the docks is expected to run close to $150,000. That could grow, depending on the need to expand the number of spaces based on public use, he said. A large percentage of the expense could be covered by grant money, he indicated.
Marsicano said the Pinellas County Planning Council, which is experienced in grant writing, had recommended the city apply for the permitting grant.
The chances of obtaining the money and moving ahead with the project look promising, he said.
“The dock space would be 100 percent available to the public,” Marsicano said. “We want to increase the public’s use of John’s Pass.”