Belleair Bridge to Open In May
By Anne McKay Garris
The Sand Key Civic Association's board of directors, last week, celebrated the news that the new Belleair Bridge is expected to open in May, well ahead of the deadline.
"This is good," said Association President Jerry Koenig. "Now we won't have long waits for both cars on the bridge and the boats below all summer long as we expected. The Association has been very interested and involved in the planning process all along."
The completion date had been estimated as Spring of 2010. Although the bridge will be open to traffic in May, the adjacent dog park, boat ramp and parking facilities will not be completed until September of 2009.
Property values, beach renourishment, dock permit applications, support of the Jolley Trolley and communications with City Hall were also on the program.
Nick Fritsch reported that needed renourishment of the Sand Key beach was expected to cost approximately $880,000, but funding in the near future was in doubt, partly because it costs a million dollars just to put the necessary equipment in place. Sand Key is, however, penciled in for 2010 or 2011 and a search for a sand source is currently underway, according to Mr. Fritsch. The last renourishment of Sand Key beach cost $50 million, but that included beaches all the way to Redington Beach.
The City Dialogue Committee reported talking with all five members of the City Council on a variety of subjects. The major topic of discussion was how to be pro-active on dock regulations, considering the possibility of numerous requests and City rules which are currently very confusing. Committee member Don van Weezel commented that it would be easier, and less time consuming, for the Association leadership to work for better ordinances rather than deal with each dock permit as it is submitted.
It was agreed that the Association should move forward in cooperating with the Clearwater Beach and Island Estates civic associations in addressing this, and other issues of common interest.
Bob Longenecker, newly elected president of the Jolley Trolley board of directors, reported on what he called the "commercial relaunch" of the popular little Trolley in an effort to survive the Clearwater City Council's decision to do away with the $12,500 a month support for the Trolley program. Longenecker reported that theTrolley records show 100,000 rides per year.
"The Trolley," he said, "is enthusiastically supported by the tourist businesses of Clearwater. Florida is about tourism," he added, "and the Trolley is as much about tourist attraction as it is about transportation."
He talked about plans to increase use of the Trolley for private parties, group transportation for local organizations, and the Trolley as a tourist attraction. The new look of the Trolleys will be 80% entertainment, according to Longenecker.
"We need more support from the tourist industry in our community," he said, "from the City, from Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and from the community. The civic associations can help," he added, "by notifying city authorities of their support of the Trolley and by using the Trolley for private transportation as well as transportation for group outings."
Members of the board indicated support for the continuance of the Trolley program.
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