CLEARWATER – Ever since the restrooms in Crest Lake Park were bulldozed earlier this year because of complaints about them being used for prostitution and other illicit purposes, the Clearwater City Council has been in a quandary as to what direction to take the park.
If they build new restrooms, as many residents have requested, they would have two choices: either declare it a regional park, which would entitle it to restrooms but might destroy its friendly neighborhood ambiance, or keep it a neighborhood park and build costly restrooms in all other neighborhood parks to avoid the appearance of favoritism.
“Council directed staff to provide a shopping list of various design elements and park amenities that could be installed in a renovated park, as well as the estimated costs for each item,” according to a staff memo.
At the council’s work session on Aug. 12, Kevin Dunbar, the city’s director of parks and recreation, presented a 19-item list. It included new restrooms at a cost of $290,000, a 50-space parking lot for $170,000, a $200,000 playground, a $165,000 picnic shelter, an unspecified number of tennis courts at $90,000 apiece and basketball courts at $95,000 apiece, a $165,000 fishing pier, a $325,000 “splash pad,” a $390.000 perimeter park trail, a $150,000 interior park trail and a $250,000 interior trail lighting system.
“If we were to spend all of this, it would be a $25 million commitment” for construction and maintenance, Vice Mayor Paul Gibson said. “I’m not ready to spend anywhere near that.”
Dunbar replied that he was merely providing the cost figures the council had requested, and wasn’t saying that everything on the list needs to be built.
Dunbar suggested doing nothing further until the steering committee that is studying the topic completes its report, then holding at least one public meeting on the matter.
“The master plan process has begun,” he said.
Funds authorized for book-tagging
CLEARWATER – The city of Clearwater on Aug. 12 authorized the expenditure of up to $161,000 to have Backstage Library Works complete the Radio Frequency Identification project at all Clearwater libraries. The project, which is expected to take four months, entails placing computer chips in approximately 600,000 books so devices similar to the scanners used in supermarkets can track them.
City renews AmeriCorps agreement
CLEARWATER – Since 1995, the Clearwater Police Department has been a participating member of the AmeriCorps organization. And for the past eight years, it has been the lead agency and grantee for AmeriCorps Clearwater.
“AmeriCorps Clearwater is a public safety program designed to foster citizen responsibility, build neighborhood unity, provide educational opportunities, and save police officer time by members performing nonhazardous public safety duties,” a police department report to the Clearwater City Council explained. “Each full-time program member provides 1,700 hours annually and each part-time member provides 900 hours annually, resulting in a savings of over 22,500 hours of valuable service time to our citizens. This allows police officers and department personnel to devote more time to hazardous and critical crime mitigation tasks. AmeriCorps members promote a safe and friendlier place to live and visit. They also serve as a conduit for the dissemination of information to residents and visitors who are most affected by ongoing changes in the city.”
Full-time AmeriCorps members receive a $12,100 living allowance and stipend each year, and part-time members receive $6,406, which is funded by a federal grant and matching funds from the city. One advantage of the program is that some AmeriCorps volunteers develop an interest in police work and become Clearwater police officers, and their AmeriCorps experience makes them better rookie cops than someone with no law enforcement background.