City explores options for empty lot on Ross


By Sam Jack, TSnews

CLEARWATER – The Clearwater City Council is exploring options to utilize an empty lot located at 100 E. Ross Ave., next door to May Chiropractic.
Community member Tricia Nichols gave a presentation about ideas for a pocket park. Nichols said that a pocket park could be used simply as a place to have lunch and enjoy the outdoors. It could also be used for Clearwater Art Walk, other art in the park events, and performances such as Shakespeare in the Park. Nichols suggested that seating, perennial plantings and shade trees could represent a baseline investment for a new pocket park; features such as shade sails and music toys for kids could also be added.
Mayor Burt Ussery noted that when the time the city purchased the lot in 2017, one thought was that it could potentially be converted into a parking lot.
The city council voted 5-0 to approve spending up to $5,000 for an engineer to create cost estimates and drawings of both a park and a parking lot. That money will be taken from a $40,000 reserve account that has been committed to eventual improvements to the empty lot.
In other business:
• The council approved a special event permit and a road closure for the Clearwater Art Walk. The Art Walk will be held April 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. Ross Avenue will be closed between Gorin and Byers from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
• The council unanimously approved hiring Certified Engineering Design for Indian Ridge engineering services, at a cost of $123,294. The cost will be rolled into special assessments on the eventual residential lots.
• The council approved splitting the cost of a water line loop at Indian Ridge; the city’s share of the cost will be about $10,000. Looping the line will allow repairs to the line to be made, as needed, without shutting off water to houses.
• The council discussed plans for the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display. Victory Pyrotechnics, which is co-owned by Clearwater native Cody Hanna, said it is not scheduling shows costing less than $10,000 on the Fourth of July, due to demand.
The city has budgeted $5,000 for a fireworks display. Rainbow Fireworks said they could put on a fireworks show on the Fourth for that amount. Alternatively, the city could solicit sponsors to help cover the additional $5,000 needed to hire Victory.
The council directed staff to get more information, and ask the two fireworks companies about what kind of show they would put on for $10,000 or $5,000, respectively, including information on the length of show and what would be included.
• The council approved hiring Whitney Landscaping for mowing, weed-eating and edging in city parks during March, April and May, at a cost of $5,800.
• Chiropractor Karl May again addressed the city council during public comments, alleging “unprofessional conduct” by the city during two evening public events that led to his business’s street parking being closed to vehicle traffic. “I am here as a citizen expressing concerns. I’m not here complaining. I’m representing my business,” May said.