Boating woes on summit agenda

A daylong meeting next month will examine issues such as public ramps and derelict boats.

Published September 10, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - The waterfront, the city's signature element, has earned plenty of attention through the years, mostly from a landlubber's perspective in regard to pretty parks and clear sight lines.

A summit next month will explore, at least in part, another perspective - that of the boaters who help put Florida among the nation's hottest recreational boating spots.

The public is invited to the free event, planned 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus activities center, 199 Sixth Ave. S.

Speakers will explore some boating issues that have emerged as big blips on official radar screens.

Public boat ramps, for example. Are there enough? Too many? Parks director Clarence Scott, who is among several featured speakers including Mayor Rick Baker, will talk about the ramps.

Updating plans for the city marina will be its manager, Walt Miller. He also will talk about mooring fields, which are supervised places where boaters can tie up. They don't use docks, but moor to buoys anchored to waterway bottoms.

St. Petersburg marine police Officer Les Miller no relation to Walt Miller will discuss derelict vessels. Abandoned or neglected boats have become an issue in several neighborhoods around south Pinellas County. Two state wildlife officers will join Miller in the discussion.

During the afternoon, those who attend will break into discussion groups and devise recommendations for city officials to consider.

"We're really just seeking input from the citizens on all these issues," Walt Miller said.

People who wish to attend should call the marina office by Oct. 6: (727) 893-7329. The RSVPs also can be e-mailed: marina@stpete.org

Registrants should provide their name, address, phone number and e-mail.

City Council member Jamie Bennett began pushing for a mooring field early this year. The proposal began a discussion about other boating issues, and Bennett suggested a task force to explore them.

He said Friday he still thinks a task force will be necessary, saying one day is not enough to resolve questions.

"More marinas are closing - where are people going to put down (anchors)?" Bennett said. "There's going to be more derelict boats. People will store them wherever they can. Tying a rope to a cinder block and throwing it down."