DUNEDIN — The waters surrounding Florida's greenest city might become a lot clearer if Dunedin succeeds in its quest for a marina pump-out station.
In a unanimous vote, the City Commission has told staffers to apply for a grant to buy and install the contraption for the Dunedin Marina. The federally funded grant would cover up to 75 percent of the project's $60,000 cost.
A pump-out station is used to collect and dispose of boaters' toilet sewage.
Elected leaders say the station would fit into the city's larger environmental-protection plans. That includes a citywide push to move all residents away from using home septic tanks in favor of the city's sewer system. That also includes complying with new state requirements for measuring fecal matter and other pollutants in local waterways.
The city is also investigating a recent accusation that a boater dumped his or her vessel's waste into the St. Joseph Sound.
"It's not just an amenity," said Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski. "It's a standard operating procedure for a marina to have it. But it's also to protect the body of water that we have right in front of Dunedin."
She added: "It's like recycling. You believe in it, so you put it out there to encourage people to use it."
Bujalski presented the idea to the city after her husband heard how Clearwater's marina received a similar grant. Boaters currently must travel to Clearwater or Marker 1 Marina near the Dunedin Causeway to empty their tanks.
If the plan comes to fruition, Dunedin's station would empty directly into the city's sewer system rather than having to be collected in a portable tank and dumped manually — a system the city has used in the past. The city's $15,000 contribution for the machine would come from the marina capital improvement program.
Even if Dunedin isn't awarded the grant, parks and recreation director Vince Gizzi said the city will likely pursue installing a pump-out station anyway.
In other action
• The city voted 5-0 to hire Jacksonville-based Taylor Engineering to study the potential dredging of Cedar Creek and Lake Sperry.
For $150,000, the firm will analyze the city's role and responsibilities in the sediment buildup, determine what dredging parameters various state agencies would allow, and draw up cost estimates. Consultants will present their findings to the commission in three to four months.
• Looking to build in Dunedin? Relief might be on tap, courtesy of commissioners who tentatively supported striking down an ordinance that automatically raises permitting and related fees by 3 percent each year. Staffers asked the commission to halt further rate increases until 2015. Commissioners will hold a second reading and public hearing at their meeting Thursday.
• A new roof will go up at the Blue Jays' Solon Avenue training facility by January. Commissioners approved a $200,000 contract to eliminate chronic leaks that officials say have cost the city $198,000 in spot repairs over the last eight years, most recently during Tropical Storm Debby. A consultant recently discovered that the Englebert Complex roof was designed incorrectly, said City Manager Rob DiSpirito.
• Commissioners approved design plans for a Dollar General expected to open at 1260 Belcher Road, just off Main Street. Developers will tear down a former Bank of America before starting construction on the 9,100-square-foot store.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.