With colorful shade sails unfurled and artistic trolley train tracks built into the elevated brickwork, Gulfport’s newest historical public park is about ready to party and greet people entering the city from 49th Street South.
Trolley Market Square, 4900 Tangerine Avenue S., is situated between the two Tangerine Avenues starting at 49th Street South and extending west about one-half block.
The dedication ceremony is scheduled to take place on the brick pavers at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 23, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
Up until 1949, a trolley line ran from downtown St. Petersburg to Gulfport, entering the city at the point of the new park.
In about two months, the park will also feature the city’s red and green trolley once the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) retires it, said O’Reilly. At that time, the old trolley will be redecorated by the city and then permanently installed in the park as a set piece resting on bricks.
At no cost, the PSTA is donating the older trolley to the city for display in the park, said O’Reilly.
A new PSTA bus shelter for the park is being built by the city and it will look “retro with a stucco finish and flat stones,” he said.
In addition, a band shell will be integrated into the park.
The first group to play in the park will be the marching band from Boca Ciega High School on the dedication day, said Justin Shea, cultural facilities events supervisor. Moving forward into the major events planned for the park during the 2020 fiscal year, the Tangerine Blues Festival will be returning.
Also taking place on February 23 and sponsored by the South 49 Business Association will be the annual classic car show with vendors, said Shea. That event will take place on the grassy area of the park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Originally, the park construction project was bid to cost $531,864.02 but with what the city is calling “value engineering” and strategic planning regarding landscape plantings, a total of $152,306.97 has been saved, said O’Reilly. The new total cost of the project is $379,557.05.
City staff in the Parks and Utilities departments have done all of the landscaping, irrigation and utility relocation work, said Director of Public Works Tom Nicholls. “They played a huge role” in the construction of the park and saving the city money.
“The construction should be substantially completed by the day of the ribbon cutting,” said Nicholls.