DUNEDIN — A water taxi, sailing center and new Dunedin Causeway Bridge are among the items being researched by a group of residents and stakeholders aiming to improve the appearance of and access to Dunedin's shoreline.
Since May, the Dunedin Waterfront Task Force has met monthly at the Dunedin Community Center to help the city create a vision for the 37 miles of waterfront and 12 state-owned islands that fall within city limits.
About 35 people attended the task force's fifth brainstorming session Monday, including boat club and sailing program members; residents who live in waterfront communities on Victoria Drive, Cedar Creek and the causeway; and representatives from Marker 1 Marina and Sail Honeymoon.
The city already has approved a short-term (2025) and long-term (2050) waterfront master plan. However, the citizen-led task force got together in hopes of offering more ideas for waterfront facilities, activities and sports programs so that visitors of all ages and abilities can take part.
To assist, the task force has invited representatives from various groups, including the Clearwater Marina and Pinellas County Parks Department.
Kim Beaty, who founded the group along with John Tornga and Diana Carsey, said much of the focus is on St. Joseph's Sound. Members have discussed dredging needs, as well as the desire to expand the Dunedin Marina to include more boat launches and parking for trailers.
"We don't want that sound to ever go away," he said.
There has also been a lot of debate over the pros and cons of replacing the Dunedin Causeway drawbridge with a fixed span, similar to the Courtney Campbell and Memorial causeway bridges in Clearwater.
Next year, task force members said, the state is scheduled to revisit a 2009 Pinellas County feasibility study that recommended replacing the drawbridge, whose useful life ends in 2025, with a 75-foot-tall bridge with sidewalks and bike lanes. The cost, estimated at $100 million to $120 million, would be funded through federal, state, county and city money.
Monday's discussion also included questions about potentially incorporating fishing piers and a sailing center into construction of the proposed new span or building them elsewhere.
In the future, several community members said, they would also like to see the city's passive parks become more active through programs, piers or access to the water.
"Almost everything we've talked about here is going to take some time. And some will take a long time," Tornga said.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.