TREASURE ISLAND — Whether the city's new $1.6 million Beach Trail will have a 500-foot section of broken and aging concrete right in its middle will be decided Tuesday.
The cost to upgrade that section of the trail is $48,000.
The section in question stretches across St. Petersburg's Municipal Beach — which lies right in the middle of the nearly mile-long trail along the Gulf of Mexico beach from 119th Avenue to just past 104th Avenue.
The city had hoped St. Petersburg would pay for upgrading its portion of the trail, but was turned down.
Trying to force St. Petersburg to pay for its part of the trail could end in a lawsuit, according to City Manager Reid Silverboard.
"Nobody has the stomach for that," he told the commission several months ago.
The trail was originally built in 1966 and paid for by the city of Treasure Island. The city again paid for its widening in 1998.
In both instances, the work included the section crossing St. Petersburg's beach.
The current beach trail renovation project calls for complete replacement of a major portion of the 46-year-old concrete walkway at the edge of the beach along the Gulf of Mexico.
The walkway will be 12 feet wide and include benches and trash receptacles. A low wall will separate the trail from the beach itself. Low, turtle-safe specialty lighting will be installed at 20-foot intervals.
In October, Mayor Bob Minning argued that there is ample precedent for Treasure Island to again pay for the trail improvements to the section extending over St. Petersburg's 500 feet of beach.
But that meeting had only four commissioners attending and they split 2-2, defeating efforts by Minning and Commissioner Carol Coward to approve the spending.
It appears that the larger city also does not want the low wall that is planned for the beach side of Treasure Island's trail, nor does it want the lighting.
Commissioner Phil Collins objected strongly to Treasure Island paying for the additional cost to include St. Petersburg's 500-foot section, particularly when that city does not maintain either the trail or the causeway stretching from Park Street to the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.
"We are looking for continuity on the beach trail, but they refuse to let the wall, lighting or vegetation go in," Collins said.
Commissioner Alan Bildz is also opposed to Treasure Island paying for St. Petersburg's portion of the trail, arguing the money could better be spent to benefit Treasure Island residents.
Tuesday, newly appointed Commissioner Julian Fant, who supports paying for upgrading the 500-foot section, could tip the balance as the commission reconsiders the matter.
Construction began in October at the north end of the trail at 119th Avenue and is expected to take up to three months to complete.
Although construction work will extend from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week, beach access points will remain open to the public.