DUNEDIN — Cleaner waterways, improved way markers and a new marina might be on tap as the city analyzes a citizens advisory group's recommendations for improved access to and the appearance of Dunedin's shoreline.
The Waterfront Task Force — led by Dunedin residents Diana Carsey, John Tornga and Kim Beaty — gathered hundreds of pages of data over the course of seven meetings last year. The city already has approved a short-term (2025) and long-term (2050) waterfront master plan. However, the task force got together in hopes of gleaning more ideas for waterfront facilities, activities and sports programs so that visitors of all ages and abilities can take part.
The task force's report includes input from more than 30 city and county groups and 100 participants who gave presentations or offered ideas to improve Dunedin's 37 miles of waterfront and 12 state-owned islands.
In the first of four presentations to city commissioners, Waterfront Task Force leaders on Thursday outlined their suggestions for the islands and St. Joseph Sound:
• Continue pollution control tactics, such as monitoring and education, to encourage residents to keep animal waste, landscaping debris, fertilizer and soil runoff out of the sound.
"Improvements in water quality have occurred over the last 10 years," in part because of city involvement, Carsey said. "The task force applauds these efforts."
• Help the Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas, an arm of the state Department of Environmental Protection, to protect the islands through citizen- and city-led cleanups. The task force also encourages public and private support that could, for example, help establish picnic or shelter areas on several of the islands.
• Protect the sea grasses. According to the report, sea grass acreage in the sound increased 56 percent between 1999 and 2010 to 3,758 acres — a sign of improved water quality.
• Update buoys. Carsey said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is slated to upgrade the way markers this summer, and the task force recommended that one or more citizens groups assist the agency.
• Ask Pinellas County to perform a depth survey of the Intracoastal Waterway and identify where dredging is needed to maintain safe navigation.
• Work with the state parks department to relocate boat launches and trailer parking away from the Dunedin Marina to Honeymoon Island. Task force members say the move would reduce marina congestion and improve access to the sound.
• Monitor state boat mooring legislation.
The report won praise from commissioners, who asked city staff to analyze which recommendations need immediate attention versus those that would fit into Dunedin's long-term plan.
Parks and recreation director Vince Gizzi said several citizens advisory groups will also review the document and weigh in.
So far, "I don't see anything unreasonable as a future goal," Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said.
The report, Vice Mayor Julie Scales said, "is a lot to absorb. I look forward to seeing what's doable."
The task force will present its recommendations for the city marina on Feb. 20; the Dunedin Causeway on March 6; and waterfront parks on March 20. Those presentations will be during City Commission meetings.
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In other action Thursday, commissioners decided to wait to lower Michigan Boulevard's speed limit to 30 mph from 35 mph while city staff continues gathering information about possible speed changes that might be needed on other roads.
Although traffic engineer Joan Rice said most motorists travel about 25 mph on the road, she said a few who hit speeds as high as 60 mph prompted residents to request a speed reduction.
Asked by Bujalski why the city hadn't first tried to control the problem using speed flashback signs, which have been successful in the past, Rice said motorists tends to push the maximum speed limit.
Commissioner Ron Barnette said he wanted to take immediate action to reflect Dunedin's push toward pedestrian and bicyclist safety. However, his colleagues agreed to wait 45 or so days while staff gathers speed data for nearby Pinehurst Road and targeted patrol information from law enforcement to determine if speed changes also need to be made elsewhere.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4153.