Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater backs up on $440,000 Pier 60 playground

This is a rendering of a $440,000 playground structure that the City Council is considering putting near Pier 60 at the beach.

City of Clearwater

This is a rendering of a $440,000 playground structure that the City Council is considering putting near Pier 60 at the beach.

CLEARWATER — After hearing from Clearwater Beach residents and hoteliers, Clearwater's elected leaders are holding off on ordering a nearly $440,000 new play structure for Pier 60 Park.

The elaborate concrete play structure in the shape of a giant sand castle would take the place of a row of palm trees in a grassy area just west of the Clearwater Beach Roundabout. It would be near Pier 60's existing playground, which would remain in place.

City Council members were slated to approve the purchase at their meeting Thursday night, but they postponed the vote until their next public meeting on the evening of May 1.

It appears that only the city's Parks and Recreation Department was pushing for the new play structure in the heart of the beach's tourist district.

Beach residents complained that the project came as a surprise to them. The City Council had been told that the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce supported the purchase of the sand castle, but that turned out not to be the case.

"The beach chamber has not made a point of saying that they were in favor of this," the chamber's executive director, Darlene Kole, told the council. Some beach hotels and businesses like the idea of the playground, while others have concerns about its size and location. The Clearwater Beach Hilton just to the north of Pier 60 is especially concerned, she said.

Beach resident Anne Garris said she and other members of the Clearwater Beach Association had never heard of the playground before it appeared in local newspaper articles Wednesday.

"Had we been aware of it before now, you would have known it," she told the council. "We would have been in touch with you."

Council members asked where the idea for the sand castle playground came from.

Parks and Recreation director Kevin Dunbar answered, "Professional staff, in reviewing the various products out there and looking at the investment that the city's made out on the beach and wanting to continue that investment, felt that this would be a great candidate for a nice amenity to add to the overall upgrade to the Pier 60 Park area."

However, beach business owners weren't convinced. Council member Bill Jonson said beach hoteliers had expressed concerns to him.

"I really think this project falls much more into the category of a 'want' rather than a 'need' out on the beach," said Hoyt Hamilton, a former three-term City Council member whose family owns the Palm Pavilion restaurant and hotel. "It's not going to bring us one more tourist."

A surprised City Council decided to take a step back.

"I'm a little surprised that we don't have the buy-in I thought we had from the business community," said Vice Mayor Paul Gibson. "These are all the wrong signs. Everybody should be lined up saying, 'What a great idea.' But we can't find anybody saying that except ourselves. So I'm not prepared to support this tonight."

The council split 4-1 on a decision to postpone the vote on the playground, with council member Doreen Hock-DiPolito opposed.

Hock-DiPolito disagreed with the beach chamber about whether the chamber supported buying the structure. She repeatedly noted that the chamber had once posted an image of the sand castle on its Facebook page with a supportive message.

"I don't understand why we're going to back up," Hock-DiPolito said.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Clearwater backs up on $440,000 Pier 60 playground 04/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 5:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Buccaneers-Vikings Turning Point, Week 3: Overreaction vs. reality

    Bucs

    "None of us really know how this group of 53 guys is going to come together and how we're going to play this season."

  2. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO

    Corporate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Roger Berdusco is stepping down as CEO at Triad Retail Media to pursue other opportunities. [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  3. What to watch this week: Fall TV kicks off with 'Will & Grace,' 'Young Sheldon,' return of 'This Is Us'

    Blogs

    September temperatures are still creeping into the 90s, but fall officially started a few days ago. And with that designation comes the avalanche of new and returning TV shows. The Big Bang Theory fans get a double dose of Sheldon Cooper's nerdisms with the return of the titular series for an eleventh season and …

    Sean Hayes, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally in Will & Grace.
  4. Eight refueling jets from Arkansas, 250 people heading to new home at MacDill

    Macdill

    TAMPA — The number of KC-135 refueling jets at MacDill Air Force Base will grow from 18 to 24 with the return of a squadron that once called Tampa home.

    A KC-135 Stratotanker, a military aerial refueling jet, undergoes maintenance at MacDill Air Force Base. The planes, many flying since the late 1950s, are now being flown more than twice as much as scheduled because of ongoing foreign conflicts. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs couldn't connect on or stop deep passes in loss to Vikings

    Bucs

    If two things were established as storylines entering Sunday's Bucs-Vikings game, it was that Tampa Bay was still struggling to establish the deep passes that were missing from its offense last year, and that …

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) gets into the end zone for a long touchdown reception as Bucs free safety Chris Conte (23) cannot stop him during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]