DUNEDIN — Pedestrian paths, extra marina boat slips and a parking garage might be on tap as planners explore ways to connect Dunedin's waterfront and downtown.
Over the past year, dozens of residents, business owners and city staffers have met to offer feedback on a $1.8 million plan to make Dunedin's marina area off Edgewater Drive more appealing to visitors and residents.
Suggestions include casual waterfront restaurants, improved vehicular access, an enhanced park area and boat ramps, a water taxi to Clearwater Beach and Tarpon Springs, an interactive fountain, bike paths to the Pinellas Trail and signs showing that the waterfront is the entrance to downtown.
The stakeholders also said avoiding overdevelopment as well as maintaining low building heights and beautiful waterside views are important.
The comments will be incorporated into changes made over the next several decades as part of Dunedin's 2025 Downtown/Waterfront Illustrative Corridor Plan and the 2033 Community Redevelopment Agency Master Plan.
"There was a strong feeling that … (the waterfront) is an uncut gem that really needs to be capitalized on," said David Gildersleeve, a project manager with Wade Trim, the consulting firm helping the city craft the downtown waterfront plan.
Gildersleeve and city Economic Development Director Bob Ironsmith presented the plan to the City Commission during a public workshop Thursday.
"It's looking at things that could be done to enhance the area in future years," Ironsmith said.
Mayor Dave Eggers said a unique aspect of the plan — which also calls for retail and hotel development on several vacant downtown parcels — is that it might help boost tourism by making Dunedin accessible via the water.
"Done correctly, we could encourage more passersby to come in, visit, grab a bite to eat and get back on their boat and take off," he said.
In anticipation of the increased traffic, the commission directed officials to look again at the plan to evaluate ways to grapple with future parking demand by boaters, park users, diners and other visitors, Ironsmith said.
Ironsmith expects the plan to go before the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Committee, a group of residents and merchants, for review around November.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4153.