DUNEDIN — The city's Community Redevelopment Agency is discussing which projects to defer amid concerns about revenue shortages stemming from the coronavirus.
City Economic and Housing Development Director Bob Ironsmith gave an overview on a schedule of proposed projects July 16.
Among projects slated for fiscal year 2021 include John R. Lawrence Pioneer Park enhancements, Alt. 19 crosswalk street print, downtown landscaping project, downtown Main Street Walkway design, and downtown wayfinding.
In fiscal year 2022, projects slated are the undergrounding of utilities on Douglas Avenue, Douglas median removal, east end public restrooms, downtown Main Street walkway construction and Skinner Boulevard improvements.
“We tried to put together a schedule that we thought made sense as far as construction, not too much hardship on the downtown,” Ironsmith said. "We don't want to impact the businesses. But we also wanted to show some progress on a community project.”
City commissioners also serve as the decision-making board for the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski expressed some concerns about the Pioneer Park project because of the cost of the project.
“I wouldn't want to see us get too far into it without seeing where the merchants stand. They aren't really going to know until it's time,” she said. “I don't think we can ask them now. Really I don't, for what's going to happen this time next year,” she said.
Commissioner Deborah Kynes said city officials should continue to check in with merchants on their concerns.
In November, the restoration of the park was estimated to cost $400,000 to $500,000.
Among the improvements for the park discussed are landscaping, 5,200 square feet of sod area, decking, seat walls, decorative slab, colored concrete, stairs for access onto a new deck area and paver bands.
Bujalski said she wanted to keep the project in the budget as it is, but said that it is the "floater."
“Because it is such a big project financially, and we don't know where the businesses are going to be at, and we don't know what the revenues look like next year," she said.
Ironsmith said staff could conduct a survey among merchants and bring the information back to the CRA board.
"Probably the date we would need to know whether to go or no go would be probably sometime in the early spring because we have to go out to bid and bring it to you for approval and then mobilize," he said.
Bujalski advised the staff to keep moving forward, get it "shovel-ready" and when it's time to bid, check again with merchants' views.
Stemming from the board's feedback, staff will conduct two surveys of merchants.
"COVID is challenging, but the downtown is still strong, and we still have some good opportunities coming up," Ironsmith said.