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Downtown waterfront master plan should include all parks, not just Pier Uplands

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council approved a motion asking staff to include all of the parks in funding for the downtown waterfront master plan. Phil Graham, president of the Waterfront Parks Foundation, presented ideas on how to use a proposed $20 million in funding associated with the plan throughout the downtown parks system.

Graham showed photos of various utility infrastructure placed in areas where they degrade aesthetics. Some examples include the blue back flow preventers that appear frequently in locations throughout downtown.

He also showed photos of fenced off meters and water pump systems controlling water fountains he said could be more discreetly or aesthetically placed. In addition, Graham also suggested that perhaps electric-car charging stations should be placed in locations not adjacent to parks.

Funding for the downtown waterfront master plan could also include money for things like park benches, more appealing curbs or convertible streets.

The convertible streets are perhaps one of the most impactful ways to continue transforming the downtown waterfront experience in an area Graham said was the third largest dedicated park system in North America behind only Chicago and Vancouver.

The convertible streets would create what Graham described as a boardwalk-type experience.

St. Pete City Council member Karl Nurse worried the funding may get too soaked up by just projects involving the Pier uplands as the city takes steps to move forward with plans to build a new Pier.

“I want to make sure the scope includes more than just the uplands,” Nurse said.

Requests for proposals to continue implementation and development of the downtown waterfront master plan are expected to go out in the next couple of weeks with the response process lasting about six to eight weeks.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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