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Boat slips are focus of new Clearwater plan

The renovations that residents will vote on are scaled back from 2004.

Published August 14, 2006

CLEARWATER - Two years after voters shot down a proposal to revamp the bayfront near Coachman Park, city leaders think they have a plan residents will like.

They'll find out in November.

Gone are the original plans to renovate the park, build an amphitheater and develop a much-maligned parking garage.

This time, city officials say they've focused mainly on creating up to 140 floating boat slips they say will lure people back downtown.

"In the postmortem of that (2004) referendum, pretty much, universally, what we heard was that it wasn't the boat slips that people voted against - most people supported that," Mayor Frank Hibbard said.

So city officials came up with a new proposal, one more limited in scope, which will go before voters on Nov. 7.

Here's the plan:

- Build 129 boat slips north and south of the Clearwater Memorial Causeway. The slips would be rented out to help cover operating costs. Visitors can use the intracoastal side of those docks that include slips for day visits.

- Build a promenade on the remaining pilings of the old Clearwater Memorial Causeway drawbridge, starting at the base of Cleveland Street and stretching about 120 feet into the Intracoastal Waterway.

- Slightly extend the old ferry dock at the base of Drew Street, and connect it to the promenade with a 500-foot-long fishing pier that would be low to the water.

- Renovate parts of the parking areas along the waterfront and behind City Hall.

- Expand the restroom facilities at the base of Drew Street by adding showers and a dockmaster's office. The current building can't be expanded beyond 1,200 square feet, according to city charter.

The proposal is going before voters because under the city charter, any development in that area requires voter approval.

If approved, officials say, the $10.9-million project would be completed in 2009.

Two years ago, the Save the Bayfront organization successfully defeated a more complex proposal, which included a parking garage.

Officials with the group stress they are not against boat slips, but the city's overall plan. They say it will hurt the waterfront view.

As a compromise, they suggest limiting slips to south of the Memorial Causeway or other places. One area is causeway land west of the Intracoastal Waterway, which the group says would be more accessible for boaters, and also has room for restaurants and restrooms.

[Last modified August 14, 2006, 01:22:09]

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