Saturday morning, elected officials from both sides of Clam Bayou gathered with representatives from Southwest Florida Water Management District, local residents from both sides of the bayou, and cyclists to cut the ribbon heralding in a new Clam Bayou.
Although work continues on the Gulfport side of the Bayou – mostly dredging and reworking of the kayak launch across from the marina – officials and governing board members celebrated the opening of the Skyway Trail (for bikes and joggers) and the work done on the St. Petersburg side of the bayou.
While most officials from St. Pete praised the project, Gulfport Mayor Mike Yakes reminded the crowd of the work to be done.
“We’re not done yet, but what a great beginning,” he said, calling Clam Bayou a “bayou beyond boundaries” in that the work to date required the cooperation of several agencies.
Plans initially included a Gulfport stormwater treatment pond and work along 49th Street to help improve water quality in Clam Bayou, but the current city council opted not to fund the program.
“There wasn’t funding in place for the city’s match,” Gulfport City Manager Jim O’Reilly said. The city would have had to contribute roughly half a million dollars to the project. Additionally, some members of city council objected to the project’s proximity to the marina, citing concerns about runoff water flowing into the marina after treatment, O’Reilly said. Council asked city staff to look at other stormwater treatment designs, but the city couldn’t do so before the deadline for state funding in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
O’Reilly says the city plans to apply for state funding in the coming fiscal year.