PORT RICHEY — City officials got a look at the potential future of a remade waterfront that aims to be more pedestrian-friendly, more easily traveled and visible to the thousands of motorists zipping along U.S. Highway 19 each day.
The City Council, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency prior to the March 23 regular meeting, listened to a breakdown of the Cotee River Landing Feasibility Study produced by engineering firm Ayres Associates. Cotee River Landing is the rebranded name of the city’s Waterfront Overlay District.
According to the 50-page study provided to the city, its purpose is to promote redevelopment and economic growth within the Cotee River Landing district. Enhancements focus on pedestrian accessibility, roadway alterations and parking improvements, lighting, landscaping and hardscaping, pedestrian and gateway signage and improvements to Nick’s Park and the boat ramp.
In its entirety, the cost of Ayres’ suggested strategy for reworking Cotee River Landing comes to $5.86 million. Alterations to downscale the scope and cost of the project are included in the feasibility study, Chris Martin of Ayres said.
Martin presented the study to the board as an informational introduction to the concepts prior to a public workshop.
“I think it is appropriate to spend a week or so and go through what Ayers is presenting, hear from your constituents and then come back and hash it out again,” City Manager John Dudte told the board prior to the presentation.
Ayres’ study recommends a counterclockwise loop within a portion of Cotee River Landing. That would entail keeping Treadway Drive a one-way road, converting Bayview Street to a one-way, southbound road to Cotee Avenue and having Cotee Avenue be one-way east to Old Post Road. The study also suggests Old Post Road being one-way north from Cotee Avenue to Treadway Drive. Martin said that stretch of Old Post Road is “an extremely tight corridor” as a two-way roadway, and its conversion to one-way opens up opportunities for a sidewalk and promotes connectivity from U.S. 19.
Martin also stated that Ayres views the stretch of Bayview Street from Cotee Avenue to Treadway Drive “as being the optimum location to really brand this area as the entertainment district.”
Walkability and more
The study envisions a 10- to 12-foot sidewalk along Bayview Street to create a parklike setting with canopy trees along the corridor, Martin said. He added that this could lend itself to closing down the roadway on occasion for events within the area.
Correlating with recent city discussions of a multiuse path throughout Cotee River Landing, the Ayres study includes a sidewalk along Old Post Road, assuming it’s converted to one-way motorist traffic from Cotee Avenue to Treadway Drive. Additional connective sidewalk along Old Post Road to the north, from Grand Boulevard south to Treadway Drive, is also suggested.
Martin also addressed the multi-jurisdictional possibility of a pathway going underneath the U.S. 19 bridge to the south of Cotee River Landing. “The one facet of our conceptual plan that is a little bit fluid is whether or not this pedestrian (connection) comes to fruition,” he said. “There are opportunities to potentially reroute some of the pedestrians onto the Waterfront District right at that bridge location versus going down to Cotee (Avenue).”
Martin stated that the feasibility study counted approximately 750 current parking spaces between all parcels and all businesses in the Cotee River Landing district.
Space for substantial increases in parking potential may be limited, Martin said.
“Our conceptual design, not impacting the pole line and an extensive utility relocation, we identified 50-80 additional spots, which isn’t a tremendous amount given the 750 already accommodated within the local area,” he said.
Martin said he would not recommend the construction of a parking garage.
A portion of additional parking options that fit within the scope of the study include parallel spaces along Bayview Street.
A focus of the city and the study is enhancing Cotee River Landing’s visibility, especially to those who may not know what lies just to the west of U.S. 19.
Accomplishing that means erecting signage. What type of signage and where it should, and could, be placed remains a question.
Options such as archway features on roadways that intersect with U.S. 19 were mentioned, though Martin cautioned that permitting issues from the Florida Department of Transportation may stand in the way. Monolith-type signage features at U.S. 19 intersections may be the city’s best option, Martin said.
An archway entrance into Cotee River Landing at the southern portion of Bayview Street would be an interesting concept, Martin said, especially if the multiuse pathway underneath the U.S. 19 bridge comes to fruition.