ST. PETE BEACH – The city of St. Pete Beach’s medians along Gulf Boulevard and Blind Pass Road should be more visible in the near future.
City commissioners approved a $178,500 bid by Riley Electric Co. on Dec. 10 to install aesthetic uplighting on new and existing medjool palm trees in the medians.
“It’s been about a year and a half now since DOT completed the median project on Gulf Boulevard and Blind Pass Road,” City Manager Mike Bonfield explained. “We were fortunate to receive some grant funding from the state, as well as some funding from the county for landscaping. We have been for some time been going through design and permitting for lighting on the palm trees and finally worked our way through the DOT regulations.”
“We have 35 medians out there now,” said Public Services Director Steve Hallock. “This is certainly going to add an attractiveness and make it safer for motorists and pedestrians because sometimes it’s difficult to see those medians.”
The new LED lights will be positioned on the tree trunks, pointing upward, 10 feet from the ground. They will be powered by solar panels, measuring 2 feet by 4 feet, which will be mounted on 8-foot poles.
“The majority of the panels will be off to the side of the road,” said Hallock. “There are eight locations where we will have to put them in the median because we just simply don’t have any right-of-way or any conduit to run it through. The ones that are currently on electric will remain on electric because electric is already there.”
Commissioner Marvin Shavlan expressed concern about how the solar panels would look in the city’s medians.
“Gulf Boulevard is the centerpiece of the city,” he said.
“I think what we’re talking about here is evolving into the technology that’s available,” said Commissioner Lorraine Huhn. “I think we have to wait measurement of this post and (solar) panel vs. what the end result is.”
“We’re not doing anything that’s not reversible,” said Commissioner Jim Parent.
“We could take it back to the 19th century without any problems at all,” said Huhn.
“It demonstrates we’re a green city out there,” said Mayor Steve McFarlin.
Commissioner Melinda Pletcher agreed.
The work is expected to take three to four months to complete. The deadline to finish the project is April 30.
The project cost is reimbursable through Pinellas County’s BIG-C Beautification Project.