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Volunteers urged to chime in with ideas for marina

The city plans to appoint a citizens panel to offer modernizing suggestions.

Published May 13, 2007


MADEIRA BEACH - The city wants ideas on what to do about its aging marina.

The City Commission plans to appoint volunteer residents to a special citizens ad hoc committee that will be given the tasks of exploring proposals and gathering information on possibilities for the marina.

For several years there has been talk about modernizing the marina, which is on the south side of the Tom Stuart Causeway.

The marina has a small store selling snacks, bait and boating equipment, a boat ramp and 93 boat slips.

According to a recent city review, the wet slips are too narrow, and the ship's store is in "poor structural condition" and is too far from the fuel dock.

The boat ramp is unusable at low tide, and plumbing in restrooms and showers is in poor condition. There are problems, as well, with electrical and water lines to the boat slips.

"Very little progress" has been made on developing any concrete improvement plans, according to City Manager Jill Silverboard.

A consultant hired by the city produced a "conceptual plan" in 2005 that is still sitting on the shelf.

The city did get an $80, 000 grant for rebuilding the marina's boat ramp, and is talking with Pinellas County about a $4-million loan to pay for the marina project. The loan would be paid back through future marina revenues.

The 20-year loan would allow the city to double its existing 93 boat slips with construction of a new dock. The plan also called for a high and dry storage facility for more than 100 boats, as well as upgrading the ship's store, lighting, parking and landscaping.

Discussions with the county are delayed but ongoing, according to Silverboard.

"The county still finds the project appealing. But they put the brake on until we all know what the Legislature does about property taxes, " she said.

Meanwhile, the city is interviewing engineering and design firms and is considering hiring a new consultant to work with the new citizens committee to update and refine plans for renovating the marina.

"We have a conceptual plan, but we want to step back and have another look at the project, " said Silverboard. "We hope the new consultants can work with the committee and have a real beginning to program development.

She said the new committee will focus on the "future of recreational boating access and facilities" at the marina. Among the committee's tasks will be a full review of existing facilities, operations and plans. The group also will gather marina comparable operations information from the state, county and other municipalities.

Silverboard wants the group to prepare a "needs assessment" including conclusions and recommendations regarding the marina.

The committee review is expected to take about six months to complete this process. Silverboard said anyone can apply to be on the committee. She encouraged residents with boating, marina and recreational or commercial fishing "concerns" or ideas to apply.

The deadline for interested residents to apply for inclusion on the marina committee is Wednesday.

The commission is expected to make appointments at its May 22 meeting.

[Last modified May 12, 2007, 19:12:51]

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