St. Pete Proposes Changes to City Marina
By GRAHAM COLTON, Writer, TB Reporter
The renovations could take 20 years and millions of dollars to complete.
ST. PETERSBURG – City officials have unveiled a draft plan for millions of dollars in proposed improvements to the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina.
The renovation is necessary because of the marina’s aging infrastructure and outdated configuration, officials said. They previewed the proposed changes during a presentation at the Sunshine Center last week.
Proposed improvements to the marina include floating dock systems, modern electrical systems and enhanced wave protection. Officials said that improvements will be phased in over the years, to minimize interruption to current marina users. The design itself is intended to be compatible with the downtown waterfront master plan.
At least one resident had concerns about the cost, which is ultimately estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
“This is going to become a high-end marina, where the average guy’s not going to be there anymore…. It’s just going to become a waterfront marina for lawyers and accountants,” said Brian Simpson, who lives aboard a boat at the marina. “What’ll happen is we won’t be in a boom economy, and we’ll have a 50 percent full marina, and guess who’s going to pay for it? Taxpayers.”
Improvements to the marina’s central basin will be implemented within five to 10 years; improvements to the south basin, within 10 to 20 years; and improvements to the north basin will be implemented as funds are available.
Thursday (Jan. 18) was the first time that the public had been able to see the master plan. Residents have until Jan. 31 to take a survey to share their input on the master plan.
City officials said they will submit a final draft of the master plan to the St. Petersburg City Council in March. It is unclear when the council might vote on the proposal.
Simpson was also concerned about what appears to be a lack of parking.
“To look at that plan…it looks like, ‘Holy crap, we forgot the marina parking,’” Simpson said.
Another concern is the availability of loading zones near the marina, 500 First Ave. SE.
“Half of [the loading zones] will be empty 90 percent of the time,” Simpson said. “But on weekends, and on busy weekends, there will be people waiting in line for an hour to unload their cars…So you’re talking 15 to 20 minutes to go park your car, come back and go to your slip.”
Simpson added, “I don’t think they should be accepting public input; they should be aggressively asking for it, and clearly they’re not. They’re just trying to go under the radar here.”
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