Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fight over hurricane shelter standards was all for naught

The news late last year stalled a much-needed hurricane shelter for Pasco and Hernando counties: New federal standards could push costs up by $4.2-million.

As a contract to build the shelter in Hudson waited, Pasco County enlisted Florida's emergency management director and won a waiver from the tougher requirements in June.

By then, state lawmakers had added $2-million as a safety net — bristling at rules that were going to drive costs up 50 percent. There were even threats to go to Congress.

But on Monday, the County Commission is expected to end the ordeal this way: Vote to build using the tougher standards.

The shelter's cost turned out to be within the $7.5-million paid with federal and state grants. And building to lower standards would only save $20,000, according to estimates provided by the company hired in June to build and construct the shelter.

In fact, lower standards actually could leave the project costing $200,000 more, if tests are required.

What happened to the increase?

"That's what I'd say was not a reliable figure," assistant county administrator Dan Johnson said Friday.

Johnson said the extra cost was estimated based on conversations with state and federal officials when few buildings had been constructed using the new standards.

The new standards require building to withstand 200 mph winds instead of the original 160 mph, and protect against the most dangerous tornadoes — a rarity in Pasco that county officials said would most drive up the cost.

The waiver exempted Pasco from the tornado standards, and lowered the wind standard to 190 mph. It also allowed Pasco to keep the $2-million federal grant.

The estimated increase also came when Pasco had only a conceptual design of the product.

"I think the major thing we want to make sure is we build it the best building we can," said County Commissioner Jack Mariano, whose district includes the project.

Pasco sought the regional shelter because of a 20,000-bed shortage in shelters.

But the project hasn't seen its first brick since lawmakers led by state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, approved it in 2006. Asked if the county spent valuable months in an unnecessary fight over rules, Johnson said:

"I'll let you draw your own conclusions. But we're just wanting to move forward and get the project built with the lowest cost in the quickest amount."

Fasano, who wants the shelter built quickly to avoid losing money, said he blamed federal officials for changing the standards after money was approved. As for the time spent fighting those standards?

"We can always be Monday morning quarterbacks, but I don't want to go back in time," he said.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.

Fight over hurricane shelter standards was all for naught 09/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 8, 2008 11:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut

    Blogs

    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview

    Hurricanes

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest

    Health

    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]