Citrus Ave and U.S. 19 (File)

An aerial view, facing west, of the intersection between U.S. 19 and Citrus Avenue in Crystal River. 

Don't let the Hawaiian shirts fool you — it won't be Margaritaville.

Dressed in tropical attire for their once-yearly break from business casual, Crystal River officials on Monday night made headway on blueprints for an upcoming town square.

Sitting as the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), city council members approved 30% of the design for the downtown center planned for the southeast corner of U.S. 19 and South Citrus Avenue.

Barring any complications, contracted developers expect construction on the 2.7-acre square to begin in November. 

City Manager Ken Frink said funding for the roughly $1.3 million, two-phase project would come from CRA reserves and, potentially, state lawmakers.

An engineer, architect and professional landscaper presented their proposed plans to the CRA on Monday prior to its vote, showing a large pavilion that wuold host a portable stage, a restroom building with storage for events, a grand entranceway and sign.

The designs are intended to mirror what’s along Citrus Avenue’s streetscape and on the Riverwalk.

In addition to the feedback they provided on the designs at an earlier meeting, officials on Monday also commented on the bathrooms and parking for golf carts.

Councilman Ken Brown said he was concerned vandals would damage the porcelain toilets and sinks, and advocated for stainless steel fixtures.

An architect with Donnelly Architecture said they looked into the option, but decided the appearance was too institutional.

Brown also pointed out the lack of parking for golf carts, which had three spots to choose from in the plans.

“We became a golf-cart-friendly city,” Brown said, noting he doesn’t want to replace regular parking spaces.

Burrell Engineering’s representative said they can explore locations, but added their space was limited because of the development criteria they must meet for a permit exemption from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Later in the evening, council in a 4-0 vote approved the purchase of a 14,542-square-foot parcel south of the future town square from Southern Heritage Inc. for no more than $27,000.

Councilman Pat Fitzpatrick abstained from voting due to his familial connections to the seller.

Brown said the purchase makes sense because the land is not only contiguous to the town square, but offers space for additional parking and access.

Half the money to buy the lot will come from the city’s general fund, and the CRA’s coffers will contribute the other half, Frink said.

Council votes to begin safety measures for Kings Bay Drive, road’s humpback bridge

Council agreed to start implementing methods to calm traffic on Kings Bay Drive and Paradise Point Road, starting with a neighborhood bridge.

Officials voted to spend $4,000 to install a row of flexible tubes on the center line of Kings Bay Drive’s humpback bridge. During a study by consultant Kimley-Horn, motorists were clocked driving at speeds of roughly 30 mph through the 15 mph zone.

Along with additional patrols by Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies, the city hopes the tubes will force drivers to slow down before they maneuver through the narrower corridor.

Kimley-Horn also suggested putting minor S-curves — known as chicanes — on Paradise Point Road, as well as putting diverting medians and speed humps on Kings Bay to create less of a straight road for motorists to possibly speed on.

Council also:

  • Approved an agreement between the city and the Hampton Family Florida Investment Trust to finalize riparian rights for access to the shoreline along the Hampton’s undeveloped lot at 300 S. U.S. 19, in accordance with a city ordinance; 
  • OK’d a set of legislative priorities and a $25.55 million funding request that its lobbyist will advocate for in Tallahassee before lawmakers start sessions in January;
  • Allowed staff to start working on an ordinance that puts owners of certain vacant and/or blighted properties on a city registry that could force them to pay increasing fees. City officials said they want to gather public input before deciding how to punish owners, who expect rights to a private lot;
  • Approved to keep the sidewalk along the south side of Northwest 19th Street in Woodland Estates, and also building a new sidewalk on the same side — farther from the roadway — with some connections to the existing sidewalk.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916 or bthompson@chronicleonline.com.

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