On May 11 we held a milestone meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Association to officially establish our priorities and recommendations for the implementation of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) study.
It was another overflow crowd. More than 60 people participated; 48 were downtown residents and the rest were from other neighborhoods.
City Council member Bill Jonson was there to answer questions. Officers of the Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition were in attendance and actively participated in the discussion. An officer of the Downtown Development Board was also there, as was an officer of the Downtown Partnership.
The participants were passionate about building a sense of hometown for all Clearwater residents and discussed ways to make the most of our beautiful waterfront and bluff, making downtown a better place to live, work and play.
The brainstorming was lively, spirited and fun, with plenty of cheering and applause. It became clear that we value three strategic priorities above all others, reaching a unanimous consensus.
- A lack of urgency is our biggest fear. As a city we want to energize and engage stakeholders fast. The best way to do this is by showing commitment and resolve. Speeding up the process is our strongest recommendation. Priority should be given to the creation of a dateline with accountability assigned to each phase.
- Rapidly initiate the process for developing a comprehensive Coachman Park master plan, including a solid date for the Harborview demolition. The master plan should encompass the park, bluff, waterfront, marina, parking and potential uses of the City Hall property.
- Accelerate efforts to update the downtown redevelopment plan by evaluating business-friendly enhancements to codes, regulations, parking and traffic. Attracting businesses, retailers and restaurants is critical to downtown’s future.
With these priorities in mind, we offer our support and encouragement to the City and all downtown stakeholder groups.
In addition, we will formally request that the City Council add a representative of the Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition to the Advisory Committee for the ULI Implementation. Residents should have a seat at the table per the ULI report.
Thank you to all who participated in the meeting. We accomplished what we set out to do and had fun doing it. We have quite a group!
Carl Schrader, President of the Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition, perhaps said it best:
“It was a great meeting, with a lot of enthusiasm and high energy. It showed that residents are willing to participate as long as they feel their thoughts and ideas are taken into account.”