This .68-acre tract is targeted for additional boat trailer parking at Egan Park in St. Pete Beach.
ST. PETE BEACH – City officials are considering upgrades to Egan Park that will be phased in over the next three budget years.
St. Pete Beach purchased a .68-acre parcel on the south side of the park in 2010 for $875,000 through the Florida Trust For Public Land, which was offset by a $200,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Tentative plans call for additional boat trailer parking at the site of the former Hendricks home, moving the current boat ramp south near the Boca Shores Condominiums, expanding the width of the boat ramp to 22 feet, adding a canoe and kayak ramp at the current boat ramp site, a rain garden for water runoff, and upgrades to an existing dock so it can be used as a public fishing facility.
The cost, with engineering and permits, is estimated at $810,000.
But the city needs to move quickly. A stipulation in receiving the $200,000 grant calls for the city to design and build some aspect of better public access to the waterfront within the project. Deadline for doing so is August, which means the city will need to ask for a time extension or possibly face paying back the amount.
The city is also eligible for a $243,750 grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District for water quality improvements, which would leave the city with an actual cost of about $566,250.
The city has $75,000 in its current budget for design engineering and $595,000 in its fiscal 2015 budget, which would cover the project. But with a number of other pressing needs, Mayor Maria Lowe suggested doing the project in three phases over 2 1/2 years so resources can be targeted toward more timely needs.
“One of my thoughts is to break this down into phases where we can meet the minimum requirement of the $200,000 that we’ve already accepted and spent,” said Lowe. “What I see in your (Land and Water Engineering Service) plan is that there could be the potential to break this up into pieces where we meet some of this next year (in fiscal 2015) at the $243,000 rate, which is the minimum for matching. Then in 2016, we could apply for another matching grant with SWFWMD. My question is, is it possible to phase this and push this out, apply for another grant rather than try to do it all under one grant?”
Public Service Director Steve Hallock said no on the second SWFWMD grant.
“We’re in a time limit as far as SWFWMD of Oct. 1,” said Hallock. “The boat ramp is what I would suggest you delay. The reason is the SWFWMD money has nothing to do with moving the boat ramp.”
Relocation of the boat ramp is expected to be the biggest expense associated with the project. For that reason, it could be moved back two years to some point in 2016.
Commissioner Terri Finnerty, who represents District 1 where the park is located, cautioned against procrastinating.
“This is a very important project to the people of District 1,” Finnerty said. “This park has been in disrepair for a very long time. We waited a long time to get the money to purchase that property. I do agree that it may be important to break it down into pieces but I don’t think we need to throw it away. Lots of residents use it all year around.”
Egan Park is located at 9101 Blind Pass Road. Amenities include two baseball fields and tennis courts, along with the existing boat ramp.