Clearwater Tries Again to Free Marina from Reverter Clause
By Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER - The City of Clearwater has renewed its effort to remove state-imposed restrictions that limit development of the Municipal Marina property on Clearwater Beach.
The 1925 State Legislation that originally gave the city the submerged lands to build what is now the Memorial Causeway and bridge connecting downtown and Clearwater Beach also gave the city the authority to fill the submerged land, creating the property on which the Marina now sits. But there was a caveat; that landfill could be used only for "public parks and places of recreation." If it ceased to be used for those public purposes, the ownership of the land would revert to the State of Florida.
The city made an attempt last year to relax the reverter provision of the 1925 act by proposing a Local Bill to the Pinellas Legislative Delegation, but Representative Jim Frishe, in whose district the Marina property lies, refused to sponsor the bill. The city had given Frishe short notice of their proposal before the Legislative Delegation was to act on it; "I'm not going to file a local bill if I've had only two days to look at it," he said then.
Correcting last year's legislative protocol faux pas, Mayor Frank Hibbard is scheduled to meet with Frishe today to discuss the proposed local bill and to solicit Frishe's sponsorship well in advance of the Legislative Delegation meeting scheduled for November 10.
Hibbard claims that "there's nothing specifically in mind" for the redevelopment of the Marina property. "It's just housekeeping to clean things up," he said of the purpose of the proposed local bill.
But Hibbard admitted that there has been talk of how the Marina might be redeveloped, and offered, "I think a mixed-use parking/hotel/revamped marina in a public-private partnership has potential." He said that during the "boom time", developers were interested in such a project, but no one is pursuing it at this time, nor are any city officials actively soliciting interest from the private sector.
Frishe said that he promised Hibbard last year that, "I would be the one to sponsor a bill if it was going to be sponsored, because it's within my district." But Frishe wanted the proposal to be publically debated; "Let's bring everybody to the table and develop a legislative work product that solves the problem," he said last year.
Frishe remains committed to involving the public in the reverter clause debate. "I want to make sure that all the interested parties have a say on this," he said. "Everybody needs to be heard on this and we need to do what's right because, obviously, Clearwater Bay is a real treasure. That includes taking a long view of what's good for the bay, what's good for the city in terms of providing services to the maximum number of citizens they can, and also making sure that the private sector is given an opportunity to participate in things."
Return to Current Edition