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Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017
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Treasure Island facing massive municipal makeover

TREASURE ISLAND — The first hint of the extent and potential cost of replacing city facilities became public Tuesday.

The commission heard, mostly without comment, the first draft of an architectural report outlining the condition of existing city buildings and a recommended expansion that would double the space currently used to run the city.

In addition, the study examined present and future parking needs, particularly in the city's downtown core, again recommending doubling the number of current parking spaces.

So far, no price tag has been put on what all city officials admit is a vitally needed project that would replace City Hall, the fire and police stations, the public works building and the city's community center.

In contrast, neighboring Madeira Beach spent over $10 million replacing its city hall, fire station and recreational complex. The cost was financed through a combination of savings and bond sales.

In Treasure Island, the city has considered selling its sewer system to Pinellas County — a system the county says is worth up to about $4 million. Neither the city or county has reached any agreement on how such a sale would be accomplished.

Other suggestions for financing the facility rebuilding range from selling waterfront city-owned property to issuing bonds that would put the city into debt for many years.

This cost, however it would be paid for, is on top of the $1.4 million estimated cost to renovate the golf and recreational complex on Paradise Island and the $22 million the city needs to keep its bridge to the mainland repaired over the next 15 years.

Former City Manager Reid Silverboard described the city facility replacement project as a "once-in-a-generation effort" that will cost many millions of dollars.

Amy Weber, an architect with the St. Petersburg firm Harvard Jolly, told the commission it would cost nearly $700,000 in repairs just to bring the current buildings up to "minimum standards."

That price would cover repairing and/or replacing "failing roofs" and covering cracked paint, but would not bring the buildings up to current building code standards or address handicapped accessibility, mold- and fungus-caused health issues, much less correct "inefficient layouts," inadequate space, parking and other issues.

And, Weber stressed, these repairs are likely to exceed federal FEMA construction limits and therefore could not be done.

"The need for new facilities to be built in lieu of renovating the existing buildings is clear," the Harvard Jolly report states.

A recommendation to replace city buildings is not new. A similar study completed 19 years ago rated most city buildings from fair to poor and suggested a similar solution.

The city's current buildings were erected in the 1950s and total about 44,000 square feet in space.

According to the Harvard Jolly study, which is costing the city $180,000, the city actually needs over 75,000 square feet of space for all four of its facilities:

• City Hall: 21,420 square feet proposed (13,570 existing)

• Police/Fire Station: 23,665 square feet proposed (11,660 existing)

• Community Center: 18,920 square feet proposed (8,747 existing)

• Public Works: 11,110 square feet proposed (9,932 sq. ft. existing)

In addition, the study estimates the city needs up to an additional 400 parking spaces in the downtown area, most likely by building a parking garage.

This is virtually double the currently available 424 spaces at both on-street and off-street locations, including parking lots at city hall, the community center and St. Petersburg's beach.

Weber said the facilities study will be completed by January and will include input from the commission, city staff, residents and business owners.

The study's final phase will include a cost estimate and an analysis of city-owned sites.

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