City Hall, aquarium ordinance advances
The City Council gave initial approval to the final draft language of an ordinance Thursday that paves the way for a November vote on whether to relocate City Hall and build a new aquarium downtown.
The unanimous decision came after one resident, Christine Michalek, urged council members to slow down on the proposed $160 million project.
She said she was concerned that city tax dollars would be used to build a new City Hall, while the aquarium would enjoy a 60-year lease at little or no cost. That gives the Clearwater Marine Aquarium a "free ride," Michalek said.
Not so, said Mayor George Cretekos, aquarium officials and council members.
Brian J. Aungst, an attorney representing the aquarium, said a forthcoming memorandum of understanding will include up to $7.5 million for a new city hall derived from a 50-cent fee on each aquarium ticket sale.
"We're confident that should be enough or at least a substantial amount of constructing a new city hall," Aungst said.
Vice Mayor Paul Gibson said the aging City Hall needs to be replaced and, if the aquarium referendum is defeated at the polls, it would require taxpayer money to construct it.
"What's concerning me is those who shoot first and read later," Gibson said, referring to Michalek.
He urged residents to educate themselves on the project.
The ordinance the council approved on first reading would implement any charter changes approved by the voters and includes the ballot language that residents will vote on in November.
The final reading of the ordinance will be at the council's June 19 meeting.
Red-light ticket appeals may go to magistrate
Oldsmar will contract with a special magistrate to hear red-light ticket appeals if the City Council approves the plan at its June 18 meeting.
A new state law effective July 1 requires cities to set up an appeals process.
Currently, people appealing red-light tickets from the cameras go to county court, but the new law forces cities to offer another option for appeal.
To comply, they must designate hearing officers, contract for outside services or add the duties to a municipal board such as code enforcement.
Initial work starting on replacing bridges
This week the city will begin early work to replace four aging bridges on Island Estates, reducing traffic to one lane.
During the initial design phase, the bridges will have safety zones marked by road striping. That will last about a year. Construction will start in 2014.
The $346,126 design costs will be paid out of the city's bridge maintenance and improvement budget, which is funded with state gas tax dollars, said Scott Rice, the assistant engineering director.
Island Estates has nine bridges, all of which were built in 1965 from reinforced concrete. The four bridges to be replaced have aged faster than the others.
The bridges scheduled for removal are two Island Way bridges between Skiff Point and Palm Island SE and two Harbor Passage bridges from Island Way to Snug Island and Harbor Island.
The city hasn't determined construction costs yet, Rice said.
The construction will be phased by closing one half of each bridge at a time.
Kids of all ages invited to breakfast with mascots
Children of all ages are invited to join in the Florida State League All-Star festivities by dining with some of Tampa Bay's most lovable team mascots.
Kelly's, 319 Main St. in downtown Dunedin, is hosting a mascot breakfast at 10 a.m. June 15. Dunedin Blue Jays mascot D-Jay will be joined by his buddies including Phinley of the Clearwater Threshers, Thunderbug of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Raymond of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tickets for the limited-seating event cost $10 for children and $18 for adults, and are sold on a first-come basis. Contact Kyra Hallett at (727) 738-7067 or [email protected] to make reservations, which are due by June 12.
Drainage project to alleviate road flooding starts Monday
On Monday construction crews will begin work on the San Salvador Drive drainage project. Work will begin at San Helen Drive and San Salvador and progress westerly along San Salvador.
The project is designed to alleviate flooding along San Salvador on both sides of Lake Paloma.
Weather permitting, project construction should be completed by the end of this year.
Motorists are asked to be cautious and obey all traffic detour signs.
Anyone with questions may contact project inspector Mark Torrance at (727) 424-3812 or [email protected]