BELLEAIR — Hallett Park, the linear 5.42 acres of open space between Clearwater Harbor and Bayview Drive, is treasured for its green space and scenic views.
Keep it that way, several residents said at a community meeting on the park Jan. 24.
About 50 residents, most of whom live near the park and visit it frequently, participated in a group discussion at Town Hall on how the future use should be approached. The topics included park character, design and access.
“The focus tonight is really is on the (town) listening to you and you listening to your neighbors and getting a better sense maybe of what the range of perspectives is on that,” said Rafael Montalvo, facilitator, University of Central Florida Institute of Government. “Then to begin … to explore support for different approaches to future uses at Hallett Park.”
From the start of the discussion residents told Montavlo and Angela Crist, director of the Institute of Government at the University of South Florida, that they favored maintaining the natural aspects of the park.
Asked if inability to find parking places for use of the park was a problem, the answer was a resounding no.
Comments and suggestions from attendees were recorded on a screen. Here are some of the remarks:
• Keep present park design wilderness, protect park from further erosion.
• Park is food for the soul.
• Discourage people from going to base of bluff.
• Keep greenspace ... no man-made structures.
• No doggie park.
• Infrastructure needs attention.
• For Belleair residents — open and available.
• Natural beauty.
• Property retained by town.
• Kids — want to keep park as is ... like to use it how it exists today
• Maintenance — is the town able to fund issues?
• What is the cost?
• 30-foot clearance along view lines from streets.
• Keep it clean and simple — sod irrigation, couple of benches, replace water
fountain and maintain trees.
• Add rye grass.
• Victor metal benches are very comfortable — concrete ones better for cemetery.
• Keep it natural.
• Maintain and clean up more.
• Don’t need more parking.
• Like the idea being able to see the water from the streets.
• Safe access for the fishers.
• Some kind of trail, gravel, along the bluff.
• Increased lighting.
• Only put greenery, plants etc. that belong in that environment
• Safety! Very important. Don’t want to be attacked at night.
• The more you entice people to the edge of the bluff, the worse the bluff situation will be. Don’t entice people to edge of the water.
• Would something other than gravel or dirt be acceptable for the path?
• Access at the north end and where it already exists is okay, but don’t add access near the sharp edge of the bluffs.
• Maintain access that is currently there by maintaining trees and vegetation.
• Ditto. Once you open the can of worms, you can’t close it ... Would like the trees that have not slipped down to be trimmed so you can walk under them.
• The only place to provide water access, if residents want it, is at the north end. If you don’t want it, how do you limit? We don’t want to put up signs or fence. And town would have to enforce it.
• Residents don’t want water access. The surest way to have lots of people coming into town would be to provide access.
As far as stabilizing the bluff in the park officials don’t conceptual costs at this point because they plan to go back to the drawing board and determine how they do the work so that it doesn’t ruin its natural beauty, Town Manager J.P. Murphy said.
“So taking that sort of step-like approach, we are in the study phase of that,” he said.
They also will take what they heard at the meeting to a leadership forum and determine what belongs in long-term strategic plan. Then they will decide what elements belong in the town’s five-year capital improvement plan.
“From there we will generate a project plan for anything that needs to be done. But it sounds like tonight what we heard was keep wild, keep it natural, but find a way to do it that is safe and allows us better views of the water for everybody,” Murphy said. “I love the idea of seeing the views from the waterfront — from anywhere.”