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Clearwater plans lottery to assign boat slips

Times Staff Writer

CLEARWATER — People who love boating and downtown Clearwater are about to get a rare opportunity: the chance to keep their boats in brand new docks in Clearwater Harbor.

The $12.8-million project near Coachman Park and the Memorial Causeway bridge will allow boats to dock near the restaurants and offices of downtown, with easy access to the Gulf of Mexico. The problem is, more than 500 people have expressed interest in a project that will contain no more than 140 slips.

The city's solution is a lottery. Within a month, city officials will send out forms for people who would like to rent boat slips. Anyone interested will be able to fill out one of the forms and send in a $500 deposit to enter the lottery. People will learn in March whether they get to rent one of the boat slips. Clearwater residents will be given priority.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for people to have open access to the water," Finance Director Margie Simmons said.

Clearwater voters last year approved the plan to build the boat slips. Opponents criticized the idea, saying it would clutter the beauty of Clearwater's downtown waterfront and likely lead to cost overruns.

Proponents said it would not only be good for boaters, but dovetail nicely with downtown development efforts and generate income for the city at the same time.

The prospect is intriguing to Alex Plisko, who doesn't have a boat at the moment but says the new slips might convince him to get one. The floating docks would not be too far from Plisko's Clearwater architectural office.

"After work I could just go down and go fishing," he said.

How the lottery will work:

• People can sign up on a Web site to receive official forms to enter the lottery. Go to www.myclearwater.com, click on "city government," then on "city department Web pages" and then on "Marine and Aviation." Then go to the left-hand column, click on "Downtown Boat Slips," and then click on "sign up form."

• Using the online list, the city will send forms to interested boaters, probably within the next month. To enter, you must pay a $500 deposit to the city and turn in a completed form.

• Next January, the city will stop taking lottery requests. City staff will determine which applicants live in Clearwater.

• First priority goes to Clearwater residents. That means no one outside of Clearwater gets a boat slip unless no one in Clearwater applies to get it.

• On March 14, the city plans a lottery announcement in the Harborview Center. Simmons said she envisions a festive event, maybe with people being called up one at a time, winner by winner, and pinning boat-shaped sticky notes on the slips they want to rent. Their $500 deposits will be applied to slip rentals.

• People who don't get a slip will get their $500 deposits back as refunds. But they also can pay $100 to remain on a waiting list.

• The boat slips will be from 30 to 55 feet long, and rents will be $15.50 per foot per month.

• The project also will include space for "transient" boaters, people who want to tie up for a day or for overnight visits. Live-aboards will not be allowed.

The city is in the process of getting permits for the 129 to 140 slips. It hopes construction will be complete by next July.

When people decide they don't want to rent their boat slips anymore, the slips will return to the city.

Clearwater plans lottery to assign boat slips 08/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 31, 2008 8:58am]
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