St. Pete Beach visualizes new park along waterfront
By AMY WIMMER, Times Staff Writer
ST. PETE BEACH -- The park eventually will include a band shell, a boardwalk, a playground and maybe a fountain or two.
But for now this beach city is just excited about what won't be on its valuable waterfront land: a hodgepodge of dated, ramshackle buildings. Some of them are slated for demolition as early as Monday.
City commissioners on Tuesday approved a conceptual plan for what will replace those old buildings: a new waterfront park. It still doesn't have a name, so city officials refer to it as "the old city hall site."
Commissioner Peter Blank suggested "Gateway Park" last week.
The park, combined with the new City Hall across 75th Avenue at the west end of the Corey Causeway, will welcome visitors to the city.
The plan, prepared by TBE Group of Clearwater, focused on the southeast corner of the property. The city is concentrating on that area, bordered by the existing police station and the city gymnasium, to make the project more manageable and affordable.
Later, perhaps years in the future, the City Commission will decide what to do with the gym on the waterfront. The building is less than 30 years old and in good structural condition.
Commissioner Jim Myers encouraged commissioners to decide where the gym will eventually be relocated, even if that work is years away.
"It really does pinch us off as we're trying to redevelop the site," TBE Group landscape architect Gib Williams said.
"It's such an important piece of land," said Julie Christman, a city commissioner whose district includes the new park. "I'm so excited. Ever since I've lived here I've thought this was just crying out for improvement."
TBE Group's plan includes a multiuse band shell near the police station that would face east and the rest of the park. The southeast corner, closest to the Corey Causeway, would have a large decorative fountain and a "playground" fountain so park visitors could cool off in its sprinklers.
Among other ideas are a playground, public restrooms and, most important to commissioners, a boardwalk beneath the Corey Causeway that would link Corey Avenue to the park. A few boat slips in the plans would allow the new park to be reached by water.
The park likely will be completed in stages, beginning with the demolition of existing buildings and the planting of grass. Commissioners subsequently will decide whether to add the fountains and what style of band shell to construct.
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