ST. PETE BEACH – It won’t happen any time soon but the first step toward upgrades to Egan Park has gotten the green light.
St. Pete Beach City commissioners voted unanimously July 22 to pay Land and Water Engineering Science $43,741 for design engineering for the project.
The project, which is estimated to cost just under $500,000 once it is complete, will be done in three phases over three budget years. But the city had to move quickly on the engineering phase or possibly lose future grant money Public Services Director Steve Hallock said he was counting on.
Hallock explained to city commissioners that the decision to begin design engineering was driven by the city’s need to obtain a $211,000 stormwater grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The city is receiving the money for upgrades that will help improve stormwater runoff from a clay baseball diamond at the park into Boca Ciega Bay.
Had the city decided to not move forward on the project, it would have lost the money, Hallock said.
Also, if for some reason the city decided to not show progress with the project this summer, it would have been forced to pay back a $200,000 grant from the state’s Land and Water Conservation Fund that was used in the purchase of a .68-acre tract on the south side of the park.
“This meets the stormwater grant requirements,” said Hallock, referring to the hiring of LWES.
Part of the tentative plan is to move the park boat ramp on the northeast corner of the park property to a new site south of there. By doing so, Hallock said it would alleviate the baseball diamond runoff into the bay.
However, some residents didn’t agree that moving the boat ramp was a good idea and believed moving it further south would create traffic issues in the lot when boaters pull their boats from the ramp. Specifically, there was concern raised over the time it would take boat owners to tie down their boats on a trailer, thus potentially blocking access to exit the park.
“Our goal is to protect Boca Ciega Bay and stop runoff,” said Hallock. “It’s not to move the boat ramp.”
Hallock went on to say the proposed plan would eliminate over 90 percent of the runoff to the ramp and into the bay.
“This will be a significant improvement,” Hallock said.
Dikran Kalaydjian, a principal with LWES, said the proposed plan would stop about 1,100 pounds of solid material that would normally go into the bay.
The tentative plan calls for one-way traffic flow through the park, entering on the north side of Captiva Circle at Blind Pass Road, and exiting a few yards south onto Blind Pass Road. It includes 10 parking spaces and a rain garden along the shoreline, 25 trailer spaces on the southside along a circular driveway that swings back toward the proposed boat ramp on the south side.
Next to the baseball fields, there would be 22 regular parking spaces, as well as16 more in a lot near Blind Pass Road.
The additional land for the expansion was purchased in 2009 for $850,000.