CLEARWATER — The city is about to kick off four big-ticket construction projects.
The City Council voted Thursday night for a half-million-dollar refurbishing of Pier 60; a $1.2 million extension of the Druid Trail, which will one day connect the Pinellas Trail to the Progress Energy Trail; a $3.3 million renovation of the Sid Lickton Sports Complex near the Clearwater Airpark; and preparations for an $800,000 cleanup of Phillip Jones Field, a ball field that was closed due to buried landfill debris.
Where's all the money coming from? From taxpayers. This will all be paid for with a mix of federal, state, county, city and Penny for Pinellas funds.
A major inspection recently confirmed that Clearwater Beach's iconic tourist attraction is structurally sound. However, inspectors recommended repairs to prevent water penetration into the pier's concrete, avoiding future problems. Also, the pier's utility lines are heavily corroded.
"It has gotten to the point out at the pier that we are taking boards off and turning them over, because they are worn so bad," said Gordon Wills of the city's marine and aviation department.
The pier will be refurbished starting in January and the project will take six months. The work will be staged to allow visitors to keep using the pier, particularly during Spring Break season.
Among other things, the 20-year-old wooden railing around the pier's 2,500-foot perimeter will be replaced with composite materials and stainless steel fittings. A catwalk will be installed all the way around the pier's bait house to help workers maintain the little building's exterior in the future.
Someday, this 8-foot-wide walking and bicycling trail will run east-west for 4 miles, mostly along Druid Road.
Two of its four phases are finished, connecting Clearwater Beach to the Pinellas Trail. Work on Phase III starts early next year and will take six months.
The trail's next segment will start at Turner Street and East Avenue, then head east to Glen Oaks Park at Betty Lane. In the future, the final segment will connect to the Progress Energy Trail farther to the east.
Sid Lickton Complex
The seven ball fields at the Sid Lickton Complex on Saturn Avenue have hosted Little League baseball and girls softball for 50 years. Now there's a construction fence around the site, and five buildings there have been demolished.
A complete renovation of the complex will cost nearly $3.3 million. Although it will force the local Little League to move its games elsewhere during 2013, it should allow the Sid Lickton Complex to stay open for decades after that. The work is to be finished in time for the spring baseball season that begins in January 2014.
Phillip Jones Field
For generations, North Greenwood kids played at this park because it was one of the neighborhood's only open fields. In the 1980s, it became the home of the North Greenwood Panthers, a large youth league for football players and cheerleaders.
But the place had once been a dump, and tests found that landfill debris such as metal and glass had edged closer to the surface. The field closed four years ago.
Fixing up the site will cost roughly $800,000. The council voted Thursday to spend $37,500 to design the project and get it permitted by state and federal authorities. The construction work is scheduled to be finished by August.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.