Mayor's Corner

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Mayor Bujalski

State of the City

May 2019

Recently, we had the honor of presenting the State of the City address to the Dunedin Chamber.  You can also watch it on Dunedin TV. But, in case you missed it, here is an overview.

We are so excited to share with you Dunedin’s success story!  Ten years ago we were in the middle of a crushing recession. We had very little money to invest in our future, and we were spending most of our resources on being efficient and effective with what little we did have. We revamped our departments, scaled everything back and only dared to dream of better days. The lean years were hard, but we answered the challenge with a more efficient government that is still reflected today.

Six years ago we all began to feel some relief. Penny for Pinellas funds began to build, taxable values began to increase and new construction began to rise. All of which provided much needed income relief for both Dunedin residents and their government.

Evidence of our resurgence is all around us. I look at our Downtown and could not be more proud!  It is a kaleidoscope of innovative small businesses and entrepreneurs that attract both residents and visitors from all over. Brought together, they have created a vibe that is envied across Pinellas County. Just this year, the City of St. Pete is working on creating a Storefront Corridor Conservation Plan to try and achieve what we have done organically.

As you know, our Downtown became a Community Redevelopment Area some 30 years ago. But we have to continually look to the future as we have another 15 years of county assistance to complete what we have started. This past year we have drafted a plan for a redeveloped and revitalized East End of the Downtown.  Over the next several years, you will see key projects take place, such as:

The Gateway – We see this property as a catalyst project that we expect, once completed, will be the anchor of the East End.  Given its importance, we have worked with the developer to create something unique and special.  Conceptual plans should come to us sometime next month but what I can tell you is that after brainstorming and several field trips, we expect to see a food court concept that will serve as a chef’s incubator. We also expect to see some additional public parking to support the potential revitalization of the East End. Given the extra time we are taking to ensure we get this right, we hope to see a groundbreaking sometime next year.

Our New City Hall – As many of you already know, our Municipal Services Building, along with our City Hall building, has been around for almost 60 years. The buildings are inefficient for both the public and our staff and they are costly to maintain. After two Facility Assessment Studies, we are finally in a position financially to integrate these two facilities into a “one-stop shop” for the public. We are currently in the process of design and programming our needs and once the public has weighed in thoroughly, we hope to break ground next spring. Upon completion, we will look to the current City Hall on Main Street to become the next Pioneer Park and Entertainment Hub of the East End.

Skinner Boulevard Revitalization - This project will be the catalyst of the Downtown’s northern borders. With the reduction of lanes, added street parking, bus pull offs and complete streets amenities, we expect this to create a safer, more walkable environment that will support the residents and businesses along the corridor. While we are still seeking state grants, we anticipate this to be completed in roughly 5 years.

Affordable Housing – Also on the East End, we are working on the possibility of some Affordable Housing. We understand that property values are pricing folks right out of Dunedin. So later this year, we are doing a Housing Needs Assessment study to tell us what we have and where are needs are. We will look to partner with other government and 501(c)(3) Agencies to achieve the goals that our study supports.

Our CRA in the Downtown is an important economic driver for our City. But it is not the only one. We have heard from many that we should not forget the rest of Dunedin….so we are making big plans!

Patricia Avenue Corridor – We have just recently reviewed a “Next Steps” plan for Patricia Avenue. You may remember that we did a corridor study back in 2007, which included streetscaping and lighting. Now we are looking to take it to the next level with road and sidewalk improvements, added landscaping and lighting, drainage improvements and added façade improvement grants for businesses. While we are still working on the financial impacts, we expect the investment will be several million dollars and take roughly 5 years to complete.

SR580 – We have been working with FDOT for some time and they have finally agreed to take on the “beast” from Alt. 19 all the way through Oldsmar. Safety issues and traffic are of major concern. But, as you know, this corridor goes through the heart of our City and could be greatly improved visually to reflect Dunedin’s unique style. We anticipate this to be a very long term project, with roughly 3 years of planning and another 10 years on implementation. However, it is worth the wait as these changes will greatly affect future generations.

Causeway/Curlew Road – This is another really important corridor. So many things are happening out there. First, we have a bridge that needs replacement.  We will be pushing to have the bridge in the County CIP for 2025. We have hope that once the bridge is built, that we can partner with the county for improved amenities, including beach re-nourishment. But in the meantime, we are working on things that affect us now….like traffic! 

  • After several years working with the State Parks Division, we have finally gotten word that they will enter into the planning phase for added entrance lanes and car queuing in Honeymoon Island. While it may be another year or two before it happens, this should alleviate a significant portion of traffic congestion on any given “beach” day.
  • We are also working with Forward Pinellas on an intersection study of Curlew and Alt. 19. This intersection has significant congestion and safety issues that we hope, with some short term tweaks, can be relieved. And in this study, they are asking the obvious question -
    • “How much more development in the area can the intersection support before failing?”
  • And finally, we are concerned about the general maintenance of the recreational areas on the Causeway. The usage of the bathrooms, garbage cans and the sand roadways are just too much to keep up with. And the environmental impacts of the human interaction need to be monitored and controlled better. Therefore, we are looking at what is needed to do a better job out there, whether it is partnerships or additional employee attention.

With the significant economic ups and downs we have experienced in the last 10 years, we have certainly faced our fair share of growing pains -- one of which is development. We have understood for some time that this is of great community concern. As mentioned in a previous article, we took the citizen feedback from our 2017 Community Visioning and changed our development codes to address their concerns on height, zero lot lines and architecture.

We are so excited and hopeful about our future. This barely scratches the surface of what we are working on. Our Commission and our talented staff continue to work hard, ensuring that we are innovative while being good stewards of your tax dollars. So we ask you to join us in Keeping Dunedin Delightful!