(ran EAST edition)
To make it easier for tourists to find out about area attractions, shopping and restaurants, the city plans to build a new beach visitors center at Pier 60.
The $40,000, 225-square-foot center will replace a kiosk in the city's marina with information for tourists.
It is tentatively slated to be opened by Labor Day, said Assistant City Manager Garry Brumback.
The building's interior will be decorated with shelves of brochures and any other informational displays the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce can dream up, Brumback said.
Using city funds, the chamber also will pay four employees to staff the center.
"I know when I go places, the first places I look is in the visitors center," Brumback said. "You get maps and information and stuff, and get an idea of where you're going."
The future of the center has been up in the air for several years.
The city knocked down the beach's civic center, which included a visitors center, to make way for the roundabout at the entryway to the beach, Brumback said.
The city delayed rebuilding a center because officials couldn't decide where it would go and how much the city would spend on the project, Brumback said.
In the meantime, a kiosk was placed in the lobby of the city's marina; but its location wasn't as visible as beach business representatives desired.
Earlier this year, beach business owners approached the city and asked them to get the project rolling, Brumback said.
City commissioners agreed that the Pier 60 site would be a good spot for the building and approved the expense for the project.
Louis Piano, president of the beach chamber, said the new center will be more visible to hundreds of thousands of people who visit the city's beach every quarter.
Piano added he still is looking for corporate sponsors willing to donate money to decorate the center's interior and possibly have a sign on the building or additional promotional space inside.