The Town Hall meeting on September 20 at the library provided a good overview of the Imagine Clearwater master plan and meaning of the upcoming referendum. There was some blockbuster news about the Harborview as well.
Frank Dame from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced that CMA has already ceased operations in the Harborview! It is currently being used as a temporary warehouse and is no longer open to the public.
CMA is ready to vacate at any time with only 30 days notice from the city. Frank told everyone that CMA believes in Imagine Clearwater and does not want to stand in its way.
If the referendum passes on November 7, things will start moving fast. An engineering firm will begin a four-month analysis in January to determine exactly how the master plan can physically proceed. There are many things to research and consider, such as underground utilities, environmental impacts, costs, etc.
The city’s goal is that Phase 1 of the master plan (i.e. the “Coachman Park parcel that includes the Harborview and lower parking area but not most of the bluff) is completed within two years. Naturally this will depend on funding, which will be an active topic of conversation once the engineering report is in hand and the scope and projected costs of the project have been determined.
Right now the focus is on the referendum. If it fails, the Imagine Clearwater plans and hopes are out the window because the current city charter does not allow anything in the parcel other than grass, basically. In his opening remarks, Mayor Cretekos referred to Imagine Clearwater as potentially being “our second neighborhood.” He added that the referendum does not commit the city to anything; it just allows for the basic things that public spaces need.