Recommendations relating to the Dunedin Causeway include: Improved signage for boaters and swimmers to reduce conflicts between the two.
DUNEDIN – The meetings are over, the draft is complete and soon the final report of the city of Dunedin’s Waterfront Task Force will be in the hands of the city manager. That was disclosed at the final meeting of the group on Monday, Nov.18.
The task force was formed several months ago when discussion began over the expansion of the Dunedin Marina. It was decided then that it would make sense to see what else needed to be accomplished along the waterfront before any work began.
The draft report contains recommendations in five main areas of concern.
Regarding St. Joseph Sound and the Dunedin Islands the Task Force recommended emphasis be placed on the water quality in the area. They say the use of oyster beds in selected areas could help in improving the water quality. They also recommend that slow zone wakes be established between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Dunedin Causeway to protect the swimmers and kayak users in the area. They also want an exploration into the feasibility of establishing a boat launch on Honeymoon Island to improve access to the sound.
The Dunedin Municipal Marina, home of most of the boating activity in the area, came in for a long list of recommendations from the Task Force.
They want to see the traffic access improved around the facility, as well as the establishment of alternate parking for cars with boat trailers and increased bicycle parking at the marina.
They recommend more storage capacity at the marina for the sailing clubs and a launch site for kayaks and paddleboards, as well as an extension to the floating dock to accommodate dinghies.
Recommendations for the marina also include the establishment of a master plan to rebuild the marina in the event of a catastrophic storm.
They also would like to see the marina become a trolley stop with connections to other services in the area.
Recommendations relating to the Dunedin Causeway include: Improved signage for boaters and swimmers to reduce conflicts between the two, assigning a city representative to have input in the Causeway bridge project, and in partnership with Pinellas County, work out the best way to accommodate all the anticipated users of the Causeway.
The fourth set of recommendations involves the Waterfront Parks in the city. They would like to see two of the parks be designated as “active” parks, which would welcome canoes and kayaks to launch in the area.
They also would like to see maps produced showing how the parks fit into the tourist and business areas. They want an App created so people with golf carts and bicycles can find their way around using their cell phones.
Another recommendation would be to establish Dunedin Beach, along the Causeway, as an official City Park, and establish a plan so that whenever any waterfront land becomes available the city should attempt to buy it.
The final set of recommendations relates to establishing public-private partnerships as a way of funding the various projects. They also recommend charging user fees in some instances and an aggressive pursuit of federal and state Grants to help pay for some of the projects.
Diana Carsey, one of the original organizers of the Task Force, said there is still some work to be done on the final report.
“We are going to do some more outreach,” she said. “We’re making presentations to several groups and committees and we’ll get feedback from them. To the extent that we can we will accept those comments and include them in the final report.”
She noted that there were some ideas made at the last meeting that no one had thought of before.
“We were asked what role the Chamber of Commerce, the Merchants Association and Visit Dunedin would play in our report,” she said. “They want to participate so we don’t want to leave them out. We want to make sure nobody is left out. We’re not perfect, if we haven’t thought of it we’ll add it.”
Once all the last minute consultations are complete Carsey said the final report will be written. They hope to be able to submit that report to the city manager by Dec. 16 then hope to get on a City Commission agenda for formal presentation.
“We’re hoping first to be scheduled at a commission workshop meeting where our recommendations can be discussed,” she said. “We need broader exposure for the report and that could happen through the Workshop.”
Carsey said the Task Force also has made recommendations on ways to implement the various projects.
“We can’t predict what the commission will do but the idea would be to have the recommendations assigned to the proper people or groups for follow-up,” she said. “That would help the staff and it would be very cool if all these people worked together.”
Carsey, who is retired but has a background in planning and research, said the last six months of meetings and hearings about the waterfront have been interesting.
“I have had a lot of experience at this sort of thing so it was fun and I enjoyed it,” she said. “Actually I think I’m wiped out, really exhausted, but I don’t feel used and abused.”
Despite that she said it was a project that was worthwhile and inclusive.
“You have to pay attention to ideas and listen to nuance and be careful with people’s ideas. You have to listen to what they say, revisit it and get some kind of closure, some type of compromise. It is fun, but it is exhausting.”
Then she put the final stamp on the group’s work.
“We’re trying to fire ourselves,” she said. “We’re trying to remove ourselves from the stage and turn this over to the local government.”