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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Clearwater dreaming up uses for Penny for Pinellas IV



Voters won't go to the polls to decide on the fourth round of the Penny for Pinellas tax until November 2017, but Clearwater is already pitching some pet projects for the funds.

The one-cent sales tax from Penny for Pinellas IV would cover projects between 2020 and 2030, so many of ideas are pretty long term.

Clearwater's list is preliminary but so far includes:

--Upgrades to the major league baseball facilities: The Carpenter Field Complex, home of the Philadelphia Phillies spring training, needs field improvements and club house renovations while Bright House Networks Field, constructed in 2004, needs refurbishment on all mechanical systems, roofing, structural retaining walls, scoreboard and seating. By the time the field is 20 years old in 2024, it will also need upgrades to the concession stands, dugouts, retail areas, ticketing, offices and media room. City staff estimates all this will cost around $40 million, with the city paying up to $7.5 million and the rest covered by the Phillies, Pinellas County and the state.

--The Sand Key Bridge will hit retirement when it turns 50 years old in 2045 and will need to be replaced. City staff hopes to set aside nearly $3.3 million annually to accumulate the $95 million needed for the project, with some of that coming from Penny.

--The city is in the beginning stages of creating a master plan to revitalize the downtown waterfront, and if their plan works out, they'll need a parking garage to accommodate all these new visitors. This garage would also be used by the new City Hall (also in the works) and employees from local businesses. Staff hasn't settled on a location yet but estimate a 700-space garage could cost $10.5 million. The new City Hall they are dreaming up (location also TBA) could run $6.3 million and would also be a candidate for Penny funds.

--The city's Public Works Complex on North Arcturas Avenue is aging and at this point could not withstand a hurricane. That's especially bad because the complex houses all the city functions related to restoring traffic, stormwater and public utilities infrastructures for disaster recovery.“With current building conditions, a direct hit from any strength hurricane may destroy these buildings, rendering these city services incapacitated,” according to a staff report on the Penny items. A new complex could run taxpayers about $12.3 million.

--With the Countryside police sub-station pushing 33 years old, the city is seeking to build a two-story structure on the site to house patrol operations and training facilities for the 57 employees who work there. It would replace the existing substation and a doublewide trailer currently used as the training site. This could run about $5.5 million in Penny money.

--The Beach Marina Building at 45 Causeway Boulevard, which houses the city's Marine and Aviation offices and private uses, was given some upgrades when restauranteur Frank Chivas built his Marina Cantina restaurant on the second floor – but more work is needed. The docks, built in the 1950s and rebuilt in the 1980s, are narrow and outdated. The walkway behind the marina and utility lines under the concrete also need to be updated. All this and more could cost $15 million.

A lot will happen between now and the referendum: cities will work with the county throughout this year to develop new projects and submit evidence of what's been done with funds from the first three phases.

Public information sessions should begin in spring 2017.  

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 8:55am]


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