City looks to 'create a special design' with decorative sidewalks

Matt Algarin

As the city continues to put an emphasis on dressing up the harbor district, decorative sidewalks and lights are next on the list.

"This is an opportunity to create a special design," City Manager Maryann Ustick told the council during a recent Community Redevelopment Area board meeting.

The idea would be to use a combination of concrete, pavers and light fixtures that would mimic what's already used along the harbor boardwalk. These aesthetic changes would be made from the site of the Marler Street parking lot to the city's Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park.

The concrete would be cut in a way that would depict a "picturebox" design reminiscent of wooden boards, while pavers would be the same style and color used in the boardwalk's compass rose. The lighting fixtures, complete with banner arms, would mirror what's already in place.

The goal was to include these changes as part of the permitting process with the Florida Department of Transportation for the proposed traffic signal at the Marler Street intersection.

One of the sticking points with the proposed plan was cost.

"I like the design package, but I never go forward on things unless I know what the dollar amount is," Councilman Larry Williges said.

A true dollar figure was hard to come by though.

Development Manager Steve Schmidt said concrete costs fluctuate and some of the work is more "labor intensive," so the city wouldn't know true figure until bids for the actual work were submitted.

Looking at the decorative sidewalks alone, Michael Bomar of Tetra Tech, a city contractor, said costs could easily jump by 15 percent.

Although there are no harbor CRA funds available for the project, the city can use money from traffic impact fees, multi modal fees and possibly gas tax.

There were plenty of suggestions made as to how the proposal could be updated, whether it was from a pure materials standpoint or adding more trees.

"I would like to see more green," Councilwoman Sandy Trammell said, suggesting they consider small shrubs to separate the sidewalk from the roadway.

When it came down to making a decision, the city unanimously approved two motions. The first would be to come back and look at the specific materials for the project. The second would be to have an actual plan to come before the CRA board that looks at a basic plan and a plan with the "fancy stuff."