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Makeover doesn't satisfy all

Despite changes, a plan to spruce up 140th Avenue in Madeira Beach still irks some residents.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 30, 2002


MADEIRA BEACH -- Some residents along 140th Avenue remain dissatisfied with the latest designs for installing storm drainage, sidewalks and landscaping, but city officials say the plan is final.

Maps showing the redesigned roadway and intersections east of Gulf Boulevard were explained to more than two dozen residents in a special meeting last week at City Hall.

The improvements to 140th Avenue, along with projects such as the new Causeway Park and updates to the city marina, will be among the first steps toward implementing Madeira Beach's new master plan. Andres Duany, a nationally recognized urban planner, led a weeklong series of workshops in Madeira Beach to help the city devise a vision for future development.

The makeover of 140th Avenue is part of the plan's mandate to create more walkable, livable neighborhoods.

"I'm happy with what I see, but there are still problems that were not addressed," said Kevin Connolly, who along with others believes the city is taking too much of their property.

Nancy Czaplinsky still worries that pedestrians will come too close to her house: "I don't like it at all. It intrudes on my property."

Connolly, who previously had organized a petition drive trying to stop the project, also said some of the 60 residents who signed the petition couldn't attend the meeting and should be given a chance to react to the plan.

"This is the final plan, but what we can change, we will," said Mayor Tom DeCesare. "Our objective is to have people be able to walk safely instead of on the roadway."

DeCesare said that less of the city's right of way will be used -- the most significant change from a previous design that had been criticized by residents. The city first expected to take up to 12 feet in front of homes along 140th for sidewalks and plantings. The revised plan has the city taking between 5 and 9 feet.

Intersections along 140th at Palm, Vivian, Miramar, Bayshore, Virginia and Parsley have been tweaked to allow better visibility for both traffic and pedestrians. All utility lines will be placed underground. The landscaping will come last: flowering trees, palms and ground-covering plants.

The $1.3-million project is scheduled to begin in January and take about a year. Contractors will work from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and a half-day on Saturdays.

"It will take a while and there will be a lot of dust and a lot of dirt," said Mike Maxemow, the city's community services director. "If there is a problem, contact us and we'll alleviate it quickly."

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