Community hopes to deflect Largo's runoff plans

Residents who live around Lake Margaret in Largo’s Margaret Manor neighborhood oppose city plans to channel more runoff from nearby streets into the lake. They fear higher water levels and algae growth.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Residents who live around Lake Margaret in Largo’s Margaret Manor neighborhood oppose city plans to channel more runoff from nearby streets into the lake. They fear higher water levels and algae growth.

LARGO — City officials call it a pond — a convenient place in the Margaret Manor neighborhood for use as an outlet for excess stormwater.

For the 16 residents who live around the 4-acre Lake Margaret, a man-made, spring-fed oasis just south of West Bay Drive off 20th Street SW, the body of water has become a part of their lifestyle. It's part of the reason they live where they live and love living there.

A plan by Largo's public works department to expand drainage into the lake from surrounding streets, however, has resulted in friction.

Homeowner Glen Johansen laid out his issues: "What the city wants to do is bring in additional water into the lake. That's obviously going to be more pollutants and water."

Several others have written in to challenge the city's plan.

"Lake Margaret provides a beautiful setting and view that we have enjoyed for forty-six years," wrote resident Alice Murphy. "… there are certainly other alternatives for this run-off."

The families who live around the lake each pay $10 a month to keep the water clean; it is professionally treated to keep algae and other pollutants at bay. It is indeed their lake, too — records show each property line extends to the center of the lake.

Many residents have invested in docks, lakeside seating and landscaping near the water's edge. The fear is that, in addition to more untreated stormwater entering the lake, water will rise and swamp these improvements.

But city engineer Leland Dicus believes the concern is for naught — that the new drainage, designed to keep garages from flooding during heavy rains along the streets between SW Seventh and Eighth avenues, will in fact help.

"The city has an interest in protecting the water quality in the city," Dicus said. "The ancillary benefit is it helps flow in the pond."

There is a flooding problem north of the lake. Several homes on SW 23rd Street show water lines on their garage doors.

While the Lake Margaret homeowners understand the issue, they wonder why the city doesn't instead divert the stormwater to McKay Creek, a block north of the lake.

Dicus said it's a "possibility" that the lake could be bypassed in favor of the creek — and that while no agreement is in place, the city may be open to providing some water treatment if the project, which was supposed to begin Monday, goes ahead as planned.

In 2008, the city held a neighborhood meeting when the project first came up. Other meetings followed, but residents said they felt like the whole picture was never presented to them as a group.

To resolve concerns, Dicus said: "I'd love to speak with some of the residents more about this."

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Community hopes to deflect Largo's runoff plans 10/05/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 4:29pm]

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