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Treasure Island says no to trail funding
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TREASURE ISLAND – For months there has been a question of whether the city of St. Petersburg would be on board with the city of Treasure Island’s Central Beach Trail renovations.

St. Petersburg owns a 500-foot wide section of the beach where the trail is located and recently reached a tentative agreement with Treasure Island City Manager Reid Silverboard to allow Treasure Island to resurface it at a cost of $48,000.

However, those plans ended Oct. 2 when the City Commission finished in a 2-2 deadlock on a resolution to fund it. Normally, five commissioners would vote on issues but Commissioner Butch Ellsworth was out on medical leave. In the event of a tie vote, an issue fails, according to the city charter.

Due to the failure, the plans for the remainder of the trail upgrades will go forward but nothing is immediately planned to renovate the St. Petersburg section.

Commissioner Phil Collins led the charge against allocating city funds for a St. Petersburg section and was backed by Alan Bildz.

“I am not in favor of the taxpayers of Treasure Island contributing $50,000 to another city who is not willing to upgrade their portion of the beach,” said Collins. “I don’t feel it’s incumbent of our taxpayers to donate $50,000 to the city of St. Petersburg to keep up their portion of their beach. Let them stand up to the pump and let them take care of their own beach.”

Collins went on to say he felt the city of Treasure Island should put up signs on the south and north ends of the St. Petersburg section saying, “Welcome to St. Petersburg Municipal Beach. Should you have any questions about it, contact the city manager (of St. Petersburg).”

Commissioner Carol Coward said she favored the funding.

“We have always known we would have to pay for our portion,” said Coward. “We’ve always known they don’t want a wall there. Is it fair? There are a lot of things in life that are not fair. But it’s to the benefit of the city of Treasure Island to make that sidewalk as beautiful as we can do.”

Bildz noted that the 1938 deed agreement to the city of St. Petersburg requires it to keep up with any renovations done on either side of the trail by Treasure Island.

Silverboard said it is highly unlikely the city can make St. Petersburg go along with the plan.

“For us to make them build a sidewalk like ours would probably require another lawsuit, which I don’t think anyone has the stomach for,” Silverboard said. “I think they would argue that the boardwalk (trail) now essentially conforms with what we would be putting in. It just would not be the same color of concrete. It’s just a philosophical decision the commission has to make. Are we going to pay for it or are we not going to pay for it?”

Mayor Bob Minning said Treasure Island historically has taken care of the trail and should continue to do so in this case.

“This beach trail was built in 1966 and was built at Treasure Island’s expense,” Minning said. “The widening was done in the 1990s, I believe, and that was done at Treasure Island expense. So I think there is precedence for the city to pay for the Beach Trail. Even though it’s through the city of St. Petersburg property, I think our visitors and our residents would like to see one continuous trail that looks the same.”

Minning said he would continue dialogue with St. Petersburg officials to see if they would pay for their portion.

In other action, the commission:

• Received a $620 donation from the Treasure Islettes for flowers and beautification of city property.

• Approved a variance request to encroach the waterfront setback by 3.5 feet at 8410 West Gulf Blvd. on Sunset Beach. Owners of the property requested the variance to build a spiral staircase from the second floor to the beach level.

• Awarded a contract for $33,512 to Titan Construction Management for repairs to the clock tower on 107th Avenue. The deal requires a 1-year warranty by Titan.

• Extended an interlocal agreement for a year with Pinellas County that provides for the county to reimburse the city up to $75,000 in expenses to rebuild dune walkovers at 122nd Avenue and Gulf Front Park.

• Passed a resolution authorizing the city to pay Gulf Beaches Public Library its share for fiscal 2013 in the amount of $100,800.
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