CLEARWATER – Among the proposals on which the Clearwater Councilmembers will vote at their Jan. 16 meeting are two items intended to enhance the ambiance of this tourist town.
If they pass, one will put a 200-foot floating dock behind the Clearwater Marine Aquarium property in Island Estates, and the other will allow a veterans’ group to erect a veterans’ memorial in Crest Lake Park.
“The (city’s) Marine and Aviation Department proposes to replace 14 of the existing 43 city-owned boat slips behind the Clearwater Marine Aquarium with a 200 foot floating dock system for day boater use, with handicapped accessibility,” a staff memo to the council explains. “The intent would be to decrease the number of slips needing maintenance, while providing boaters an alternative to driving to the aquarium by car, and picking up and dropping off passengers via a floating dock system better equipped to safely board special needs visitors. The decks there now are fixed for private recreational use, and have no provision for special needs boaters.”
On Dec. 4, 2013, the City Resource Committee gave Bill Morris, the city’s Marine and Aviation Director, the green light to apply to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for a Florida Boating Improvement Program Grant to offset the cost of purchasing the floating dock system. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida West Coast Cruises and the Bay Star Restaurant Group have agreed to ante up the necessary matching funds, and the necessary environmental and construction permits have already been obtained.
The second proposal, if approved by the City Council, will allow the Tampa Bay Veterans Alliance to construct a “Veterans War Memorial” in the city-owned Crest Lake Park to honor those who have served in America’s wars from 1917 to the present. The organization has already obtained the approval of the Skycrest Neighborhood Association, the Clearwater Arts Alliance and the Clearwater Public Art and Design Board.
“TBVA has presented the City of Clearwater with the prospect of creating a Veterans War Memorial to be sited at Crest Lake Park,” a staff memo explains. “Currently the project is being proposed in two phases. The first phase consists of a memorial plaza constructed of pavers or concrete with half-walls, of approved height and length, to feature veteran and donor recognition plaques with further landscape and hardscape features as permitted.”
The anticipated $300,000 cost of Phase I will be evenly divided between the TBVA and the city. It is estimated that it will take TBVA 18 to 24 months to raise its $150,000 share of the Phase I funding, and the organization’s Memorandum of Understanding with the city will expire, effectively killing the project, if that amount is not raised by January 16, 2016.
Because there is no public parking in the area of the park where the memorial will be located on Lake Avenue, city officials estimate that they may have to construct 15 to 20 parking spaces in that area, at a cost of approximately $100,000. But they are waiting until it becomes certain that the memorial will be built before tackling the parking problem.
If both phases of the memorial are built, the total cost of the project is expected to be $1.3 million. TBVA and the city will each be responsible for $650,000 of that.