The city was shaped during a time when energy was cheap and abundant and driving was the primary mode of transportation. These conditions resulted in a geographically spread-out community in which essential places such as work, homes, schools, and shopping areas were built at a distance from one another. This type of development created a large dependency on vehicles to get from place to place each day.
Because most of Clearwater is already developed, the city must look toward redeveloping underused properties to allow for growth. Creating conditions that enable sustainable growth requires thoughtful consideration of the relationships between how a property is used and the transportation options available to the community around that property.
It's important to establish a balance between high-quality, energy-efficient development and maintaining an economic environment that is attractive to developers. At the same time, the city will need to incentivize reuse and revitalization of existing buildings so they can remain usable over the long term. As Carl Elefante said, “The greenest building is . . . one that is already built.”
The city also has the opportunity to improve quality of life and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by improving land that is currently underused. The city will continue to increase greenspace on its own properties and will encourage the expansion of greenspace on private property. The city will educate residents about the benefits of native plants and implementing Florida-friendly landscaping practices. It will also continue to seek opportunities to create and maintain areas for recreational purposes and protect environmental resources.
- In February 2019, Moccasin Lake Nature Park reopened after renovations and is now home to a butterfly garden and multiple native plant installations. By offering hiking trails and nature classes, the center is a beautiful resource for those interested in learning more about Florida’s natural ecosystems and wildlife.
- Clearwater’s Coachman Ridge Park also underwent renovations that were needed to compensate for stormwater impacts produced by the new Solid Waste Transfer Station in the same floodplain. The Parks & Recreation and Engineering departments updated the park by increasing the number of trees from 300 to 1,911.
- For Arbor Day 2019, the city celebrated its 37th year as a Tree City USA by giving away thousands of young trees to residents. This tree giveaway is an annual tradition.
- Clearwater Greenies, a component of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department, hosts a number of beach, park, and neighborhood cleanup projects throughout the year. The department also offers Adopt-a-Trail, Adopt-a-Park, Adopt-a-Street, and Adopt-a-Waterway programs for citizens and businesses. In 2018, more than 1,000 hours were spent beautifying spaces and removing litter from areas within Clearwater.
- City Council unanimously passed resolution 19-28 in support of the newly created Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot. Hope Spots are recognized areas critical to ocean health and human communities. The Gulf of Mexico ecosystems and animals are central to the city of Clearwater’s economy and the happiness of its residents and visitors. Many endangered species, such as the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, Scalloped hammerhead, Blue whale, North Atlantic right whale, live along Clearwater’s coast.