The Task Force on the future of Dunedin’s waterfront at its second to last meeting on Oct. 7.
DUNEDIN – After months of discussion, meetings and numerous presentations the city of Dunedin’s Waterfront Task Force is just about wrapped up.
The group met on Oct. 7 and presented an outline of what will be contained in its final report, which should be finished in time for the meeting Nov. 18.
Task Force Chair John Tornga gave the participants an idea of what they might expect.
“We have had a tremendous amount of input,” he said. “We now have an outline, a draft of where we stand. There are no more presentations.”
Tornga said what the Task Force learned is that it is important that there be partnerships in the city. He said there are public-private partnerships and variations of such arrangements. He said there were 30 boards and committees that operate in Dunedin and they all have a role to play in planning for the future.
The outline for the final report identifies four distinct areas of concern: St. Joseph Sound and Dunedin Islands, the Dunedin Marina, the Dunedin Causeway and the Dunedin waterfront parks.
One of the Task Force organizers, Kim Beaty, said that the Dunedin waterfront is no small place.
He said that 8.7 miles of waterfront is owned by the city, 3.6 miles is owned by the county and 24 miles is state owned. In addition to that Dunedin owns some submerged land. There also are nine waterfront parks and the Intracoastal Waterway.”
Beaty noted that the state park on Caladesi Island attracted 220,000 visitors last year and 1.1 million visited the park on Honeymoon Island.
The draft report indicates a need for the city to play an active role in the management of St. Joseph Sound and to establish a map for the users of the parks and islands. It also suggested using mobile dredging equipment for maintenance work on the Intracoastal Waterway.
The draft also wants the city to consider establishing a mooring field once state legislation allows it.
The Dunedin Marina was the subject of much discussion during the monthly meetings and the draft report suggested to the city that a study be done to evaluate the possibility of expanding the marina. It also calls for a traffic study to be done in the Edgewater Park area with an eye to modifying what currently exists. It also recommends that the water viewing and fishing pier area be increased.
A long-term recommendation is included that calls for a design for the marina to be ready should a storm destroy the current facility.
The Dunedin Causeway recommendations begin with concern over the planned new bridge to Caladesi and Honeymoon islands. Residents urged that the city take an active role in planning that bridge. Other recommendations include installing proper signage and picnic tables and pavilions along the causeway. It also calls for a needs assessment for a new Dunedin boat launch.
“If Dunedin were able to build a new boat ramp that could accommodate launching two boats at a time that would be wonderful,” said Diana Carsey, one of the organizers. “It would be a 100 percent improvement over what is available now.”
The long-term recommendations for the Dunedin waterfront parks include installing equipment to encourage additional uses for the park, as well as encouraging the Adopt a Park program for the upkeep of the facilities. Another recommendation is to develop a connectivity map to city and state parks to include kayaks, paddleboards, ski-dos and catamarans.
During the meeting there was discussion about the future availability of waterfront land in Dunedin. Carsey said it was clear what people wanted.
“We will include in our report the fact the people think the city should routinely consider purchasing waterfront property,” she said. “There should never be a piece of such property on the market that the city should not consider buying.”
Carsey said they learned about the need to establish a mooring field close by.
“The AGLCA, America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association, regularly bypass Dunedin because there is no mooring field for them to anchor,” she said. “And even if there were a mooring field, there is nowhere for them to tie up their dinghies when they come to shore.”
Carsey said such information will be included in the final report, which will take at least a month to write.
“We have to compile all the information we have learned and it will take a month or so to do that. The draft has begun but it is a long way from being finished,” she said. “We should have the report complete by the Nov. 18 meeting and then it would be very smart to roll out future plans.”
Carsey said once final approval is given to the report at the November meeting, it will then be presented to the Dunedin City Commission.
“We have to get on their agenda, and if they would prefer it at a workshop meeting instead of a regular Commission meeting, then so be it,” she said.
The Task Force recommendations will relate to the use of the waterfront from the years 2025 and beyond.
As for whether or not the whole process has been worthwhile, Carsey believes it has been.
“I think it has been worth it. There will be actions that will arise from this because the future will force us to make some changes,” she said. “If we had not done this work, we would be less prepared.”
The next and final meeting of the Task Force will be on Monday, Nov. 18, 2 p.m., in the Dunedin Community Center.