DUNEDIN — City officials are hoping the second time is a charm in their efforts to obtain a $1 million grant for a Skinner Boulevard improvement project.
Commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 19 to apply for the grant, which is allocated by Pinellas Forward, a county planning agency.
The city applied for the grant last year but finished second in the ranking behind the city of St. Petersburg.
In several discussions involving public participation, city officials have discussed possible improvements to Skinner Boulevard, such as a roundabout, and other measures to enhance safety.
City officials heard that since St. Petersburg had applied for the first time for last year’s grant, they had the edge. Forward Pinellas oversees the application process for the infrastructure grant.
“We were a first time applicant; they were a second time,” said City Housing and Economic Development Director Bob Ironsmith.
City officials don’t expect the grant to be available until 2023. They have already received a $100,000 planning grant from Forward Pinellas.
The city plans to make some changes to the application before submitting it to Forward Pinellas, such as addressing affordable housing.
“They focused on the connection of what we were doing to affordable housing, and that was not prevalent in our application,” Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said. “Which we are going to change this year.”
City officials say Skinner Boulevard today functions to move cars fast but does not incorporate other elements of a complete street, such as safety, walkability, bicycle movement, golf cart crossing, enhanced sidewalks and improved access connections.
An enhanced Skinner Boulevard that moves traffic, is aesthetically pleasing and includes other elements would change the roadway segment and be a stimulus for overall economic development, city officials say
“It’s an important grant for us, we would like to get it,” Ironsmith said.