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Largo plans to refurbish its iconic downtown clock tower

JOSEPH GARNETT, JR.   |   Times
Largo’s plans to revamp the iconic clock tower includes lighting and more greenery.

JOSEPH GARNETT, JR. | Times Largo’s plans to revamp the iconic clock tower includes lighting and more greenery.

A new fountain and lighting, more greenery and some trees may soon frame the city's big blue clock tower.

It's time, leaders say.

The iconic structure, built in 1995, faces a number of problems. The surrounding pavement is cracked, mosaic tiles are falling off the columns and the current fountain and lighting system no longer work.

"It's in need of serious renovation and repair," Joan Byrne, the city's recreation, parks and arts director told the Largo City Commission Tuesday.

The 40-foot structure, located at the corner of Seminole Boulevard and East Bay Drive, serves as the entrance to Largo Central Park. It's also the symbol of Largo and used in the city's logo.

In October, the City Commission awarded the renovation project to Tampa Contracting Services, which is working with designers Heartwood and Bark PLC to refurbish the clock and surrounding plaza.

During a community works session Tuesday, the design firm asked the City Commission for direction. Although commissioners don't vote during these sessions, they do share opinions.

Jake Zimmerman, a landscape architect with Heartwood and Bark, gave them two options, each with a projected cost of nearly $300,000.

The first features a fountain that would be illuminated at night to display a "white frothy cone of water," Zimmerman said.

Commissioners liked the idea, but were concerned the light fixtures and jets may corrode and fail, just as they did in the first installation.

"We're proposing to use solid brass fixtures that actually would work a lot, lot longer," Zimmerman said.

The other option would be to create landscaping beds underneath the clock. But the panel seemed to like the undulating fountain better.

The current sea of pavement surrounding the tower, "creates a harsh environment for users," Zimmerman said.

To make it more inviting, he suggested six pathways surrounded by beds of low landscape plants in a radial design that employs less concrete, more green space and areas of decorative pavers.

A display area in front of fountain would contain a path of recycled glass, which would glimmer from reflections of the fountain at night.

Commissioners also discussed the mosaic tiles decorating the clock tower's columns. They were installed as part of an Eagle Scout project five years ago, but some have fallen off and the design extends only partially up each column.

Zimmerman wanted to know if the tiles should be removed or repaired.

Fix them, they said.

Not only did commissioners want the tiles secured with better glue, but also indicated they'd like to see the design reach all the way to the top the pillars.

Commissioner Rodney Woods said the project is important because the clock tower defines Largo .

"This is our brand; this is what we say Largo is. The clock tower is everywhere," he said. "So I want this to be the very, very best project it can be, of course spending the least amount of money."

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

Largo plans to refurbish its iconic downtown clock tower 03/01/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:20am]
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