TREASURE ISLAND — Eliminating plastic packaging at city facilities and events, transforming Treasure Bay into a flagship waterfront recreation center, financing of additional city facilities and undertaking major infrastructure improvements are among a series of goals envisioned in the city’s five-year Strategic Plan.
During an Oct. 20 workshop, Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Amy Davis told city commissioners that city staff considers this strategic plan “a living document. … We’ve really lived it.”
In this second and contemporary version of the planning document, Davis explained, “We expanded the process to try and include a broader perspective than just the management team and City Commission. We opened it to the public to participate as well as to many board members, civic associations and the chamber.”
Davis said it was interesting to see how priorities changed during the past 20 years. Twenty years ago, beautification was first on the minds of residents and now it’s development, the beach and environmental issues that ranked high.
To update the strategic plan and reach a broader group, a survey was conducted from December 2019 to February, which resulted in 350 responses. In addition, a community workshop was held Feb. 29. Results of the survey and workshop resulted in staff “fleshing out goals, objectives and action plans into a workable plan that we believe captures the intent of the community input, plus includes additional objectives drawing on the expertise and experience of city staff to further enhance the plan,” Davis said.
She advised commissioners, “Some of these objectives or goals (are) going down a road we’ve never gone down before; we might go and have action plan number one and achieve that, and then have to decide how do we get to the next step. We might not know all the steps in going down a certain path. We just wanted to be transparent about it. Some of these areas are going into uncharted territory for us. We will chart out the path as we go along.”
In one of its major goals, the city will set out to become “an environmentally sustainable and resilient community.” The plan is to eliminate single-use plastics and polystyrene from city-sponsored events next year and then ban them from use at city facilities the following year. Staff will also investigate installation of water bottle filling stations throughout the city by 2023.
The revised strategic plan envisions adoption and funding of a Master Park Plan in 2022. Under the changes, Treasure Bay will be promoted as the city’s “flagship waterfront recreation facility,” with enhanced tennis programming to include youth and collegiate tournaments by 2023. Also in that year, Parks and Recreation will be tasked with developing plans to create a multi-use recreational facility that includes water activities, walking trails, pickleball, and event space.
A year earlier, in 2022, the Parks and Recreation Department will be required to create a plan to utilize a floor at the new City Hall for programming space to maximize revenues and promote community engagement. Next year staffers will be asked to focus on creating family-friendly and sustainability-focused events, along with identifying opportunities to provide virtual and mobile programming.
In 2023 the strategic vision will find city staff seeking ways to finance and develop a new Public Works facility, Public Safety building and maintenance yard.
Under the plan, next year the city will perform a citywide municipal seawall assessment and develop a needs report for future funding, along with a sanitary sewer force main assessment. According to the plan, the city will also conduct a feasibility study on redirecting sewer for treatment to Pinellas County.
Future action could include rehabilitation of dune walkovers in 2024 and replacement of failing seawalls with living shorelines where feasible around 2025. Next year, staff plans to focus on fully funding the maintenance of the bascule bridge. The city will engage its lobbyists to pursue funding opportunities using the Causeway Financial Plan.
In 2023 the city plans to install electric vehicle charging stations and bicycle parking areas at its properties. A year earlier, city staff will assess the desire of the community to expand Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority routes.
All the items will have to be individually approved by city commissioners as they are budgeted.
Commissioner Tyler Payne said he recalled a lot of discussion about making the city more boater-friendly and accessible by water. “I was wondering if you had that in mind about fitting that into any of these objectives,” he said. “Is there a reason that wasn’t included?”
Justin Tramble, assistant director of recreation, said it is addressed in the Master Park Plan as a high-level goal.
Commissioners will vote on whether to adopt the 5-year strategic plan on the consent agenda at their Wednesday, Nov. 4 meeting.
Modified Sanding Ovations is planned
Sanding Ovations is on, but as a greatly modified event Nov. 19 to 22 on the beach at 104th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard.
City Manager Garry Brumback noted this year the sand-sculpting event will be held as an exhibition rather than a competition. “It’s going to be appropriate for the times that we are in, respectful of social distancing. We are going to make full use of the beach to the best of our ability.”
On the group’s website organizers note, “This year, there will not be a Masters Cup Competition due to travel restrictions for international sculptors. A themed sand exhibition will replace the competition. Sand sculptures will be spaced 30 feet apart for viewing.”
Among the changes, the main stage has been eliminated to reduce crowding or gathering. Two 12-by-16 platform stages will be installed for smaller performances. Entertainment will include roving performances and local bands instead of national or regional touring headliners.
Instead of featuring two bars, the event will feature one bar with designated one-way in and out lines. Instead of the second bar, the event will have two or three pop-up beverage tents selling only canned beer. Bars will be cashless, with no seating or gathering areas at the bar.
Vendors will be spaced 6 feet apart and no merchandise can be sold in the six-foot area between tents. No food or non-food samples will be permitted in vendor space.
Volunteers will encourage event participants to social-distance, organizers said.