Sailing center officials outline pavilion proposal

SAND KEY — The Clearwater Community Sailing Center wants to build an approximately 2,500-square-foot open pavilion that would provide more space for water sports classes and other activities and events.
Corporate and private contributions are expected to provide the estimated $150,000 necessary for the construction, according to center officials. If the City of Clearwater approves the project, it could be completed by 2016.  
Sailing center board members unveiled the plan last week to members of the Sand Key Civic Association.
The structure would be erected on the sand east of and adjacent to the public beach restrooms and north of the sailing center's existing building at 1001 Gulf Blvd., along the shores of Clearwater Bay.
The square structure would be 50 feet by 50 feet, with an apex of some 16 feet. The insulated metal roof would be supported by poles above the sand floor. There also would be a small wooden deck. 
Sailing center board member Lex Raas, of MarineMax, said he wants the center to “get better at what we already do well,” and the covered addition really would help.
Bill Morris, the city's marina and aviation director, said Tuesday the center needs the additional space, particularly to handle multiple functions scheduled at the same time. The center has had to erect tents to accommodate some events.
The pavilion would be used not only for classes and summer camps, but also for gatherings such as the meetings of local outrigger and sailing clubs already held at the center.
Participants in such activities would benefit from having a large, shady area that offers relief and protection from the unrelenting Florida sun.
 “There's just no shade out there," Morris said.
He said he encouraged sailing center board members to bring the pavilion proposal to the Sandy Key neighborhood group for it support before the plan goes before the city council.
Raas told civic association members Nov. 6 about the variety of water sports opportunities already available at the center, including sailing in various types and sizes of boats, windsurfing, prone or kneeling paddle boarding, canoeing and “the fastest growing sport in the world today — a surfboard with a paddle.”
The possibilities for Paralympic training and world championship events are real, he added.
Al Brown, the sailing center's board chairman, reminded his audience of his organization's mission statement: to provide safe sailing opportunities for the entire community. To that end, offerings continue to be expanded so that residents and visitors of all ages and abilities may learn about and have fun on the water.
Adaptive programs are tailored to meet participants' varying abilities, such as the Never Say Never Pirate Camp for young amputees; and Camp Awesome, for high-functioning autistic or other special-needs youths.
 Earlier this year, sailing outings were provided for veterans and their families through the Wounded Warrior Project. 
For more information, visit or call (727) 517-7776.
Gazette correspondent Vicki Jackson contributed to this report.

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