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Beach Beacon
Madeira project takes shape
Proposed Municipal Center is seen as ‘a beacon’ to the city
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Plans for the proposed Madeira Beach Municipal Center include a revamped recreation center and an expanded city hall.
MADEIRA BEACH – Critical steps have been taken by the Madeira Beach City Commission to move forward with a remake of the city government and recreation complex on Madeira Way. A special meeting was held Oct. 30 to discuss the project and view a new conceptual plan by the architects.

The project appeared to be facing a scale-back or even cancellation a couple of months ago, but is now being expanded to include a new recreation center and upgrading of the ball fields next to city hall. Buoyed by an overwhelmingly positive response to a resident survey on the topic along with comments made by citizens at a town hall meeting in October, the commission has decided to abandon a plan to complete the project in stages and do the entire job at once.

Included are replacements of the aging city hall and fire station, a new multipurpose building and recreation center, fitness center and redo of the ball fields. The redesign features more green space that can be used to create larger ball fields or a dog park. A rooftop deck on either the city hall or multipurpose building where functions could be held was added to the project in the latest discussion.

A new conceptual design for the municipal center, incorporating ideas from the town hall meeting and changes directed by city officials, was presented by Jason Jensen of Wannemacher Jensen Architects. A major objective of the design is to “open up the waterfront, from the east tip to city hall, for a park and promenade area,” Jensen said.

City Manager Shane Crawford told the commission at the outset, “You need to give us guidance and direction so we can get the project moving forward now.”

The recreation complex redo, which had been tentative up until late last month, got the most attention. A reconfiguring of the ball fields includes a softball field, a Little League field, and a flexible multipurpose field that could be used for softball, Little League or other activities. Soccer, tennis or basketball also could be played in the new recreation area.

There would be separation between the high action use and the more passive fields, Jensen said. Park land would be kept open for shelters, accommodating activities such as birthday parties, he said.

The rec center is planned to be completely youth-oriented, Jensen said.

The commission decided to locate the recreation center “out on the point,” away from the rest of the project. Crawford said that was the city staff’s recommendation.

“Put it out on the peninsula. It will be a beacon at the water’s end,” he said.

Separating the rec center from the rest of the complex would open up about 4,000 more square feet of green space near the city hall, fire station and multipurpose building and provide more flexibility in that area, Crawford said. It also would be a safer location for a facility where parents will be dropping off their children, away from the fire station, and would ease congestion in the complex, Crawford stressed.

Commissioner Nancy Oakley, who had suggested the rec center should be located near the other buildings, said the out location would mean a duplication of services with the multipurpose building, such as the need for kitchens in both places. But Commissioner Terry Lister said having the recreation building on the point would be good for the city’s image.

“Every time I drive over the bridge I look out at the ball fields,” he said. “Having something over there that would be a statement for Madeira Beach would be really, really nice.”

That location “would be a real beacon for the boaters,” Crawford added.

The city plans to recoup some of the extra costs, estimated at $1 million, of separating the rec center by charging significantly higher fees to nonresidents who use it. Oakley said two-thirds of the children using the current recreation programs do not live in Madeira Beach.

All of the commissioners but Oakley favored building the rec center on the east end of the peninsula. A resident’s suggestion to add a swimming pool was rejected as being too expensive, and requiring additional staff time to maintain.

Fire station – 1 or 2 stories?

City staff also supports building a two story vs. one story fire station, Crawford told the commissioners. The taller station would occupy less space and open up more green area, and also offer better views for the firefighters on the second floor.

The two story station would also cost about $360,000 more, require users to use steps or elevators, and have additional maintenance. But it would encroach less into the library’s land, and that has been a concern, Crawford said.

The commission agreed to go with the two-story station, as recommended by city staff.

Surface vs. underground parking

Providing underground parking was the most contested issue on the survey of Madeira Beach residents. While most components of the project were favored by more than three-fourths of the respondents, only about half wanted additional dollars spent on underground parking.

The commission decided to compromise on this issue, and consider having either a complete or partial parking level under the city hall. The architect will bring back several options on the parking configuration.

Rooftop deck gets praise

Commission members liked the idea of having a deck where events could be held on top of either the multipurpose building or city hall.

“There’s a beautiful view out there,” Palladeno said.

“This would give us something nobody else has,” said Oakley.

Vice Mayor Vander Velde said, “I like the rooftop deck.”
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