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Madeira Beach moves ahead on Center
Architect unveils expanded plans
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The proposed Madeira Beach Municipal Center design features front steps to City Hall, with offices to the left, commission chambers straight ahead, and multi-purpose building to the right.
Looking east toward the city of Madeira Beach’s athletic fields and the Intracoastal Waterway, the design of the municipal center includes a multi-purpose building on the right.
MADEIRA BEACH – The site is not getting any bigger, but the features and amenities of the proposed city government and recreation center are growing, as is the cost.

Officials from Wannemacher Jensen Architects Inc., gave another update on its progress at the Dec. 11 Madeira Beach Commission meeting. This time, true-to-life conceptual drawings were shown that gave residents and commission members a first time look at the proposed Municipal Center’s completed appearance.

The latest design incorporates feedback from previous town hall sessions held with residents, as well as meetings with involved groups such as the Little League and library. Their recommendations have added amenities, while costs are expected to increase beyond the previous estimate of $9 million.

As the city hall gathering viewed pictures that evoked images of a five-star seaside resort, architects Jason Jensen and Sergio DeSanto presented the Municipal Center’s latest features. Jensen said the design upgrades make the complex “a truly world class” facility.

Water, water everywhere

The concept takes full advantage of what Jensen described as “the stunning waterfront setting.” A major goal, he said, is to provide as much water view as possible from the buildings. The outdoor activities are also opened up to the water to the greatest extent possible.

Floor to ceiling windows in the multi-purpose room and fitness center offer waterfront views, as do the city hall offices. A covered boardwalk fronts the city hall entrance, then wraps around to create a deck behind the multi-purpose building.  The special event spaces are all adjacent to the water.

The multi-purpose building is created to be “a very special place, an anchoring site.”

As the residents wanted, the recreation center has been moved out to the point, where it is “a beacon to people riding by on boats,” Jensen said. The Little League and softball fields have been expanded, and are waterfront.

“Who else has a Little League field on the water?” Jensen asked.

Plans call for separate dog parks for large and small dogs.

Green spaces throughout the complex have been enlarged, enhancing the beauty and recreation potential of the grounds. Walkways run directly along the water.

“It’s a special place,” Jensen said, “and we’re taking as much advantage of this really beautiful site as we can.”

One interconnected site

The Municipal Center design represents “one continuous overall plan,” Jensen said.

“The buildings, ball fields and park are all connected. It’s all one idea, and makes for an easy and efficient place for people to come,” put in Sergio DeSanto.

Green space connects the elements.

“We’ve opened up so much more green space, providing walking paths and beautiful views,” Jensen said.

Building upgrades

The city hall and multi-purpose building have “changed quite a bit” with the latest design, Jensen pointed out.

Several significant alterations were in direct response to feedback from residents. Putting parking below the city hall building was a feature many residents wanted because of the convenience and protection from weather conditions. There is also an elevator that can be used from both the inside and outside parking to get to the building entrances without climbing stairs.

The multi-purpose building, which includes the fitness center, was redesigned to face the water, also in response to resident requests. Jensen described the multi-purpose facility as “really a community building, fronted by a special event deck, which offers a lot of options.”

The commission room is at the center of the city hall complex and features a water view from floor to ceiling windows facing east. Flanking the meeting room are office spaces in one wing and the multi-purpose building on the other.

The fire station will have offices, engine bays and the work environment on the first floor, with living quarters on the second. A classic fire pole will be a feature, along with an elevator and stairs. A dayroom and patio will overlook city hall. The existing fire station will remain in place while the new facility is being built, so there will be no lapse in fire services, Jensen said.

All of the buildings – the city hall, multi-purpose building and fire station – will be the same height and raised to meet FEMA requirements. The site will offer “openings and vistas to the water throughout,” Jensen said.

Costs a concern

The added features and amenities of the latest design have also added costs to the project. Several residents had questions about how the city plans to finance a project of this size along with costly infrastructure improvements already in the works.

“We keep adding more and more to this project. The commission needs to decide what we can afford and quit adding all these elements,” said former Commissioner Marv Merrill.

Merrill said the project as presented “could cost us $750,000 a year just to finance.”

Costs are a concern, resident Deby Weinstein agreed.

“We have a $13 million building and $15 million in infrastructure improvements coming up,” she said. “How will we pay for it all?”

Financial services adviser hired

City Manager Shane Crawford said the city has no debt and a sizeable amount of money in the bank, which helps. But he said “we are moving into uncharted territory in taking on projects of this size.”

Crawford recommended hiring a financial services adviser who would advise the city how to finance the major projects being undertaken. That person “would show us different finance options to save money,” Crawford said.

The commission agreed to hire Jeffrey Larson of Larson Consulting Services as financial adviser for the municipal complex project.

Larson has worked in that capacity with local communities, including Treasure Island, Dunedin, St. Pete Beach, Oldsmar, Indian Rocks Beach and Gulfport.

According to a memo by Finance Director Vincent Tenaglia, Larson has a strong reputation for guiding municipalities through the debt issuance process at low-bid rates.

Larson’s fee, which will range between $23,000 and $30,500, will be paid out of the financing at the end.

City Attorney Thomas Trask, who also serves as attorney for Dunedin and Oldsmar, is familiar with Larson’s work with those cities. He told Crawford following the meeting that Larson will benefit the city in the financing of the projects far more than the amount of his fee.

The commission gave Crawford an OK to proceed “full speed ahead” with the project.
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