TREASURE ISLAND — Rebuilding a 15-block-long pedestrian and bicycle trail along the city's beachfront took a significant step forward last week with the awarding of an architectural and engineering contract worth nearly $200,000.
In addition to designing the beach trail, Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture also will manage the construction project, which could be completed within the next 13 months.
Treasure Island's new central beach trail will extend more than 4,400 feet from just south of Gulf Front Park near 104th Avenue north to 119th Avenue.
Its construction has long been a priority in the city's visioning process.
What is there now is a severely deteriorating sidewalk and concrete sand wall built nearly 50 years ago. Concrete wall panels are cracked, with pieces missing and revealing rusting reinforcing rebar. Parts of the wall are missing. The sidewalk is cracked and broken.
When completed, the new trail could include a winding walkway with colored pavers and benches, as well as activity areas for grilling, exercising and shuffleboard.
As originally proposed several years ago, the current flat-topped concrete sand wall will be replaced with a decorative barrier with turtle-safe lighting and a tilted top to discourage visitors from leaving drinks and debris on the wall.
The final design will be determined in the next few months. Design concepts will be presented periodically to the commission and the public for review.
Hotels and other properties along the trail will be encouraged to add more landscaping and other amenities that would be available to their guests and the public.
The $188,615 just approved for design and engineering will be paid for out of the city's undesignated fund balance.
Although the total cost for the project is not yet known, officials estimate it will be about $1.5 million, most of which the city plans to borrow and pay back out of future Penny for Pinellas funds.
The city plans to ask St. Petersburg to pay part of that cost for the 600 feet of the trail that crosses its municipal beach park. If St. Petersburg does not agree, that part of the central beach trail will not be upgraded.
This month, the Treasure Islettes donated $8,000 for beautification along the beach trail, bringing their total pledge to date to $18,000. They hope to eventually raise $1 million.
Graham-Booth also designed the city's Sunset Vista Park, as well as recreation areas at Carillon Office Park Preserve, Booker Creek Park, St. Petersburg Honor Walk, St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront parks, Brandon Parkway, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa's Ribbon of Green and the Hillsborough River Greenway.