INDIAN SHORES — After more than a year of deliberation, multiple design submissions and several workshops, the Town Council unanimously accepted a monument project concept plan at a Nov. 10 meeting by a vote of 5-0. The concept, “Family Future,” by artist Steve Graff, was chosen.

The one thing council members agreed upon from the beginning was that the monument should reflect the town’s branding of the Tocobaga Indian logo to honor and recognize the original inhabitants of the Indian Shores area. Last year when the town could not settle between monument designs of “Reclining Whelk” and “The Guardian,” by artist Mark Aeling, the council worked on evaluating more specifically what they wanted the monument to be.

Mayor Patrick Soranno said that he envisioned including the family of the town’s existing Tocobaga Indian logo in the monument. Other considerations were that the monument should be low-maintenance as well as have interactive and educational components. “We want something with our name and our heritage,” said Soranno.

Concept Two, “Family Future,” includes all those things, winning out over Concept One, “Give Thanks,” also by Graff.

In addition to appearing more active, showing a family engaging in various activities, “Family Future” is conceptualized as the centerpiece of a memorial arch configuration that has “star sightings” and instructional interaction for children. During a Sept. 21 workshop, the council’s consensus was that they preferred Graff’s concept over Aeling’s prior design as being “more family-friendly.”

Landscaping and seating will be incorporated into the monument “pocket park” at Tiki Gardens.

The remaining $330,000 Penny for Pinellas money for the monument project expires in September 2021, so the council is hoping to expedite the project. An additional $500,000 of future Penny for Pinellas money is to be used on beautification aspects of the project, including the landscaping and seating.

According to Bonnie Dhonau, the town’s administrator, the town has 60 days to bring the final concept to bid package. With the clock ticking, the timetable is for the council to approve the final design concept, get county approval, and prepare a bid package all in January 2021. Bids should be submitted, opened, reviewed and recommended by the bid team for the council to be able to award the bid in April 2021.

The bid team will consist of Larry Fluty, town engineer; Darin Cushing, town building official; and Dhonau. The council anticipates approving the construction contract and mobilizing construction to begin sometime in May.

With construction slated to begin in the spring, “We have to stay on point to get this done,” said Soranno.

He said that the entire council was excited about the monument project. “This is going to be an enhancement for the town,” Soranno said.