Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nature wins two Clearwater votes on Lake Chautauqua Park

CLEARWATER — In the densely populated landscape of Countryside, Lake Chautauqua Park and an adjoining nature preserve are a 70-acre oasis of wilderness and serenity.

Clearwater officials decided Thursday night to carve some horseback riding and hiking trails through this patch of nature, and possibly to acquire more land for it.

That's going to cost some taxpayer money — some of it from the state, some from Clearwater. And that prompted a conservative critic of the City Council to ask them to reconsider. But council members say the expense is worth it.

There are two separate things going on with Lake Chautauqua Park:

• The City Council voted unanimously to accept a $200,000 grant from the state's Recreational Trails Program to construct a 2-mile-long shell trail for horse riders, walkers and mountain bikers. The city must kick in $200,000 of matching funds from Penny for Pinellas sales taxes.

• Council members decided to allow the city to apply for a Florida Forever land preservation grant. Clearwater would use this grant to buy 20 acres of undeveloped land at a stable on Union Street that's connected to the park's southeastern corner. The city might have to kick in more than a million dollars in matching funds, but it's not obligated to go through with the deal if it turns out to be too expensive. If Clearwater actually gets the state grant in a couple of years, then a future City Council would make this decision.

It was the first part — the $400,000 shell trail — that ticked off conservative activist Joe Paige.

Paige, who has routinely been questioning City Council spending decisions, took issue with the trail at Thursday night's council meeting.

"We need more trails in Clearwater like a moose needs a hat rack. How many trails is enough?" he said. "We have enough trails. We have enough parks. We have enough preserves, reserves, areas of special interest."

City officials defended the decision. They explained in more detail the reasons to create the trail.

In 2008, the city bought 27 acres of woodland just south of the nearly 45-acre Lake Chautauqua Park, which is between U.S. 19 and McMullen-Booth Road south of Enterprise Road.

To do that, officials used about $2 million in city impact fees and a $1.5 million grant from the Florida Communities Trust. Like Florida Forever, the trust is another state effort to preserve green space.

When it awarded the grant, the Florida Communities Trust required a management plan for the 27 acres, which is now called the Lake Chautauqua Equestrian and Nature Preserve. That plan calls for the city to put in some trails to open up more of this isolated, wooded area to the public, said Kevin Dunbar, the city's director of parks and recreation.

Aside from the shell trail, the project also includes benches and a new parking lot. The 27-acre property used to be part of the Boy Scouts' Camp Soule, and the Scouts cut some rough trails through there many years ago.

"It's basically in its natural state," Dunbar said of the property. "There's a series of unimproved trails that run throughout it, and this cleans those up."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4151.

Nature wins two Clearwater votes on Lake Chautauqua Park 02/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 18, 2011 6:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Protest sparks Texas lawmaker threats of gun violence


    AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas' tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense …

  2. Photo gallery: 20 mugshots of pro athletes arrested in Florida - 1994 to 2017


    In light of today's arrest of Tiger Woods in Jupiter, Florida on DUI charges, here are 20 booking mugs of professional athletes who have been arrested in Florida, from 1994 (Jennifer …

    Desmond Bryant - 2005 - Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was arrested in Miami on charges of criminal mischief after allegedly "going to a neighbor's house inebriated and causing a commotion." 

  3. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again


    Coming off Sunday's 6 1/2-hour, 15-inning marathon win over the Twins, the Rays will have the pitcher who finished that game, Erasmo Ramirez, start tonight's game in Texas, first pitch 8:05 Tampa Bay time.

    Ramirez threw only 12 pitches on Sunday so the Rays decided to let him make his planned start tonight, …

  4. Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honors Memorial Day (w/video)


       Curlew Hills Memory Gardens honored those that served during their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with …

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor.
  5. Authorities release name of Tampa woman killed in Temple Terrace apartment fire


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Authorities have released the name of a woman who died in a fire that destroyed a dozen units in an apartment complex here Sunday.

    Firefighters battle an early-morning fire Sunday that claimed the life of 28-year-old Tenecia Renee Brannon and left about 30 others homeless. [Temple Terrace Fire Department]