CLEARWATER – One of the things contemplated, but not built, when the Beach by Design master redevelopment plan for Clearwater Beach was adopted in 2001 was a 15-foot wide boardwalk, built by the adjacent property owners but maintained by the city, behind all properties that back up on Clearwater Harbor on the eastern side of East Shore Drive.
“Property owners required to construct the new public boardwalk as a result of the development approval process are responsible for the construction of the boardwalk as well as providing the city the necessary elements for public access and boardwalk maintenance,” a staff memo to the City Council explained. “The city would provide for the design and construction of the three public access nodes on Baymont Street, Papaya Street and at the pedestrian walk under the bridge at S.R. 60, which goes south to the Marina.”
For the past few years, because of the sluggish economy, nobody was building in that area, and the boardwalk provision was nearly forgotten. But today’s recovering economy has revitalized the area and resurrected the boardwalk provision.
“The Frenchy’s (restaurant) project located adjacent to and south of the Papaya Street right-of-way is being permitted and the hotel project to the north of Papaya Street is beginning to do some additional design work on their project,” the memo said.
At its Aug. 12 work session, Kevin Dunbar, the city’s director of parks and recreation, asked the City Council to amend Beach by Design to establish guidelines for property owners who are required to build boardwalks that must meet the city’s criteria.
“The new design guidelines and specifications address requirements including finish materials, lighting, trash receptacles, benches, landscaping, and specific requirements related to the boardwalk construction and materials (e.g. timber piles, decking and railing),” another staff memo explained. “Typical sections of the boardwalk and East Shore Drive sidewalk are provided as well, in order to provide further guidance and illustrate the requirements. The document also identifies two required public entry nodes at Baymont and Papaya streets as well as a public access plaza adjacent to the public parking lot north of Memorial Causeway, and provides specifications with regards to finish materials, landscaping, bicycle racks, water fountains, and lighting for these entry nodes.”
At the Aug. 8 work session, Dunbar also asked the City Council to approve the expenditure of $606,510 from Special Development Fund retained earnings to design both the boardwalk and the entry nodes. Having the city’s architect design both the city-owned entry nodes and the boardwalk, which the property owners must build, will benefit both the city and the property owners in the long run, according to Dunbar.
The owners will be spared the expense of hiring their own architect, and the city, which will maintain the boardwalk, will get a uniform design which is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but also easier to maintain than a hodgepodge of different designs. The boardwalk will be made of artificial wooden planks that Dunbar described as “about as close to forever as you can get,” and the trash receptacles, lighting fixtures, water fountains and other amenities will be uniform.
“It will look consistent,” Assistant City Manager Jill Silverboard told the council. “All the materials will be consistent.”
As of press time, the council had not voted on the two measures. But they were both expected to pass easily, if not unanimously, at the council’s Aug. 14 meeting.