The Safety Harbor City Commission outlined a number of goals it would like to see addressed in the coming years during its bimonthly meeting last week, and there were a few ideas put forth that could greatly affect the future of the city.
Commissioner Janet Hooper started the discussion by saying she would like the commission to review the city’s Downtown Mater Plan.
When Mayor Andy Steingold asked her to be more specific because the document is extremely lengthy, she suggested a more concise point of focus.
“It’s about footprint,” Hooper responded. “The biggest thing is, what do we want our downtown to look like and how do we see the growth coming, because we’re going to have growth and we need to see how it fits in.”
Hooper explained the issue stems from the new, larger homes that are being built on small lots, which she believes is leading to an overcrowded look in the downtown district.
“We need to figure that out, and right now people are upset and not happy with what they are seeing,” she said. “We need to say this is what we want it to be that promotes growth and still allows for keeping Safety Harbor Safety Harbor.”
City Manager Spoor said staff would take a look at the sections of the MP that deal with that aspect of the downtown development and then present the findings to the commission at a future meeting.
Hooper also added she would like to focus on improving the community’s bike trails as well as start working on a plan for city’s upcoming centennial celebration in 2017.
Reviewing the Waterfront Park project was also a big topic, and it was the top priority among Commissioner Carlos Diaz’s goals.
“Everybody has something concerning the waterfront project, either the splash pad or the interactive fountain, you (Vice-Mayor Andy Zodow) mentioned the boat ramp and also the greening,” he said.
“So I think maybe discussions on the waterfront project in, say, a six or seven month timespan, and include all those items.”
Diaz also said he would like the city to concentrate on renovating the Mullet Creek Bridge and move forward with the Cedar Street Park project.
But Commissioner Cliff Merz said he was reluctant to move forward with more park projects while the Waterfront Park is still in the early development phases.
“Obviously we had a funding plan in place that we’re only twenty percent into,” Merz said.
“So I want to be careful, if we’re going into additional goal discussions, that we’re not even anywhere near paying off the first section that we agreed to before all these other potential changes and the costs associated with it.”
Mayor Steingold added that before they start work on another park, they should look into making the adjustments to the Waterfront Park project.
“Before you begin to develop Cedar Street, another park — we’ve got a lot of parks now — you might want to put some focus on the park that’s really going to stand out as people start coming into the city,” he said. “And I seriously think it’s going to stand out.”
One of the mayor’s suggestions to improve the park and make the area more of a destination spot is to add a feature such as an interactive fountain at the marina, which would help capitalize on the influx of travelers coming over the new Courtney Campbell bike and pedestrian trail.
“I keep telling you, you’re going to want to make that waterfront park a destination spot for people coming over from Tampa, because you’re going to get a lot of people coming over,” Steingold said.
The mayor said if the other commissioners didn’t want to build the interactive fountain, which would replace the current fountain at the marina entrance, they should come up with alternate ideas.
“I sent out picture of the interactive fountain. If you don’t like that, come up with something else,” he said.
“I mean, if someone’s got a better idea to make it a destination place, throw your ideas out.”
But Commissioner Hooper said she would be against not developing Cedar Street Park, which would be home to soccer, baseball and softball fields.
“We have wonderful Little League diamonds here, and wonderful baseball diamonds, all for boys,” she said. “We have girls in this community, and they deserve a place to play.”
“The girls have really no place to play and, quite honestly, I’m going to stand here and say, guys, it’s time,” Hooper added. “You can put 20 million other things in front of it and not do it, but there’s a grant out there that’s available that they’ve got to get, and I think it’s doable without taking away from anything else.”
Ultimately, Spoor said he had whittled the suggestions to four major goals that would not be included with regular budget or CIP items.
“Since some of these things are going to happen organically, four things that need discussing are the bike trails, the centennial celebration, the downtown master plan and the future of the waterfront park,” he said.
“I’m good with that,” Hooper replied.
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