Forward Pinellas awards Complete Street grants

The city of Dunedin’s Complete Street Project on Skinner Boulevard includes a Pinellas Trail crossing.

CLEARWATER — Forward Pinellas announced the latest recipients in its Complete Streets grant program March 11. The program is designed to support redevelopment and economic opportunity by making roadways safer and more accessible.

The city of Pinellas Park will receive $100,000 for concept planning of a project for 78th Avenue North from 60th Street to U.S. 19. The city will provide a $75,000 funding match. The city of Dunedin will receive $1 million for construction of a project on Skinner Boulevard.

Four applications were received for the $100,000 available for concept planning. Largo requested $100,000 for a project for Fourth Avenue Northwest from the Pinellas Trail to Missouri Avenue. St. Pete Beach requested $70,000 for Boca Ciega Drive and Gulf Winds Drive. St. Petersburg wanted $100,000 for Sixth Street from Roser Park to Mirror Lake.

The applications were reviewed by a subcommittee made up of members of the Technical Coordinating Committee, Planners Advisory Committee and Forward Pinellas staff. The Technical Coordinating Committee voted 14-1 to award the grant to Pinellas Park. The Planners Advisory Committee approved the recommendation unanimously.

In a report from the evaluation subcommittee, members said they were happy with the quality of applications and the strong interest shown in the fourth year of grant funding.

The Pinellas Park project covers 1.8 miles inside the Community Redevelopment District and the improvements would link the city center to the performing arts district. It will provide a safer alternative to Park Boulevard. The area currently has no bicycle accommodations.

Construction grant

Three applications were received for the $1 million grant for construction projects, including one from the city of Dunedin for Skinner Boulevard; city of Largo for First Avenue Northeast, Missouri Avenue to Fourth Street Northeast; and city of St. Petersburg for 28th Street, Gandy Boulevard to Roosevelt Boulevard.

The city of Dunedin’s project was picked to receive the grant although Forward Pinellas Board members Karen Seel, a Pinellas County commissioner, and Michael Smith, a Largo commissioner, voted no. Seel objects to plans to include two roundabouts that she considers will make the project unsafe.

Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski, also a Forward Pinellas Board member, said she also had some concerns about the roundabout, although her city commission supports them. However, she pointed out that the project design is not complete with Florida Department of Transportation still working on the details.

The city will match the $1 million in grant with $3.7 million of its own money.

The project covers a 1/2-mile segment of roadway that includes a Pinellas Trail crossing. It has high bicycle and golf cart usage. The goal is to lower traffic volumes while providing for pedestrian-friendly facilities, safety enhancements, parking, transit facilities, street lighting and other improvements.

Development of the project plan was finished in 2019 and was partially funded with a Forward Pinellas Complete Streets design grant.

Planning and Place-making grants

Forward Pinellas has $100,000 to award to municipalities to fund projects that advance the goals and objectives of the countywide plan.

This is the third year of that grant program designed to help in implementing planning and urban design principles in the countywide plan. Two applications were received.

The city of Pinellas Park requested $100,000 to prepare a master plan and construction documents for its city center district. St. Petersburg wanted $100,000 to develop two demonstration and pilot project policy guides.

City representatives gave a presentation to the Planners Advisory Committee, and a subcommittee of PAC members recommended that each be awarded $50,000. The Forward Pinellas Board unanimously approved the recommendation.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.