Streets will stay two-way
City traffic engineers recommended Monday that the city not convert Poinsettia Avenue and Eastshore Drive into one-way streets to accommodate a new parking garage on Clearwater Beach — at least not right away.
"Our recommendation is that we build the garage and then look at making a change in the traffic pattern if it looks like there's a problem with the garage in operation," said Paul Bertels, the city's traffic operations manager at a City Council work session.
Eventually, converting Poinsettia and Eastshore to one-way traffic could "work very well," Bertels said, but it would increase congestion where Poinsettia branches off from the Clearwater Beach roundabout .
Such a traffic redesign would also put more wheels along Baymont Street to the north of the proposed nearly 700-car garage at the Pelican Walk Plaza.
Paradise Group, a Safety Harbor developer, will build the garage. In 2016, the city will buy at least 450 spaces for about $11 million, using parking fund revenue, according to a tentative agreement.
Studies have shown that pedestrians don't like to walk along one-way streets, which could damage efforts to develop a pedestrian-friendly "marina district" along Eastshore Drive, said Geri Lopez, the city's director of economic development and housing. Property values also have a tendency to go down when streets are turned into one-way avenues, she said.
The city gave preliminary approval to the garage on March 20. Mayor George Cretekos urged City Council members to stay on message regarding money spent to build the garage in the face of loud complaints from some beach residents.
Parking revenue will be used for the city's portion of the seven-level garage. Many beach residents think incorrectly their property taxes will be used to pay for the garage, Cretekos said.
"This garage is going to use private-sector funding initially and then we'll be using parking fund money, which is not taxpayer money. It's not from your property taxes," Cretekos said.
"It is still the people's money. We generate it from the public," said council member Hoyt Hamilton.
Parking fund revenue comes from money fed into parking meters and fines. The garage is slated to open next year.
'Dolphin' actor talks of tales
Nathan Gamble, who plays Sawyer in the movie Dolphin Tale and the upcoming Dolphin Tale 2, will be at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and its sister location, Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure, today through Saturday.
Nathan will make appearances to discuss the two movies.
Attendance is first-come, first-served. Admission to the aquarium is required for attendance. Check seewinter.com for details.
The aquarium is located at 249 Windward Passage on Island Estates in Clearwater.
Have your say on parks issue
Dunedin's Parks & Recreation Department will host three meetings this week to get the public's opinion on a long-range strategic recreation plan.
The city is in the process of developing a framework for future parks and recreation needs over the next five to 10 years. Residents are "highly encouraged" to share their ideas at one of the following forums:
•6:30 p.m. Monday: Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pinehurst Road.
•10 a.m. April 9: Hale Senior Activity Center, 330 Douglas Ave.
•10 a.m. April 12: Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 550 Laura Lane
Residents are also invited to go to dunedingov.com to fill out a parks and recreation survey by midnight on April 30. Paper copies are also available at each of the above locations.
For more information, call (727) 812-4531.
Electronic and chemical disposal
Pinellas County residents can safely dispose of many household electronics and chemicals this month at mobile collection events that are free.
Events are Saturdayat Palm Harbor University High School, 1900 Omaha St., and April 26 at Tarpon Springs High School, 1411 Gulf Road. Both are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are subject to change in the event of severe weather.
Residents can drop off electronics such as camcorders, cellphones, computers, TVs, DVD players and microwave ovens. Chemical items accepted include automotive fluids, batteries, fuel, paint and fluorescent bulbs along with other mercury-containing devices.
Residents should not mix chemicals together or place them in dark plastic bags, and should keep products in original, labeled containers if possible. Individual batteries should be placed in separate plastic bags or have terminals covered with heavy tape to prevent short circuits.
For more information on mobile collections including a full list of accepted items, items that are not accepted, instructions on how to transport chemicals and future dates, visit pinellascounty.org/utilities/mobile.htm.
Preparing for a disaster isn't fun, but it's necessary
Register now for the "Make Mitigation Happen'' workshop to help homeowners make their home safer from hurricanes and other disasters that threaten Florida. Workshop participants will also learn how to save money on the windstorm portion of their homeowner's insurance premium. It is free to Florida residents and will be held at 9 a.m. April 12 at the Oldsmar Library, 400 St. Petersburg Drive E. To register, visit: bit.ly/Mitigation or call Oldsmar Fire Rescue, (813) 749-1200.
'Peter Pan' actors will be at library
Get a sneak peak at East Lake High's production of Peter Pan.
Student actors dressed in costume will visit with youngsters ages 3 and older from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Friday at the East Lake Library, 4125 East Lake Road.
The play will be performed by East Lake High's drama department at 7 p.m. April 10-12 at the school, 1300 Silver Lake Drive.
For more information, call (727) 773-2665.