Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

Treasure Island's plan for trees meets resistance

TREASURE ISLAND — About $25,000 in landscaping is ready to be installed next to the city's beach trail, but it appears some hotel owners are dragging their feet, reluctant to commit to taking care of trees they think might disturb their gulf view.

The city wants to install clusters of palms along with ground plantings in the 5-foot area often referred to as "no-man's-land" to the west of the 3-foot-wide beach trail. The Treasure Island Islettes, a women's civic club, has donated the money for the project.

Years ago, the city went to court claiming it owned the property behind the hotels on Gulf Boulevard despite the fact that the hotels had said it was private property. The court ruled in the city's favor but said improvements hotel owners had made prior to the ruling could stay.

Over the years, the area has sometimes been described as an eyesore and people like former Mayor and City Commissioner Julian Fant, now on the city's vision stewardship committee, have wanted to improve the property.

"It's a jewel in the rough," Fant said. "It would be a tremendous asset to property owners to improve that area."

Fourteen clusters will be planted in the next few weeks in front of 10 to 12 properties where owners have agreed to irrigate, said Jim Murphy, director of public works. Money is available for approximately 30 clusters.

The city doesn't have the equipment to provide irrigation for the landscaping until it becomes established and is asking hotel owners to do it.

Right now some businesses like Sloppy Joe's restaurant have installed landscaping right out to the beach walk. But others haven't and some properties use the area as storage.

Fant and his wife, Millie, a member of the Islettes, are hoping to meet with reluctant hotel owners to convince them that landscaping is in their best interest.

"This is the front yard. This is what people come to Florida for," he said, looking out at the sprawling white sand beaches to the west of the beach trail.

"They don't want any of their view blocked, but we can put them (palm clusters) between the hotels," Millie Fant said. "Maybe we could put one planting in and let them see what it will look like."

But one beachfront hotel owner, who said he hasn't been asked to participate, isn't sure it would benefit his hotel.

"We have six palm trees and an Australian pine back there, there isn't any room," said Kevin McInerney, owner of the Windjammer. "People call that area no-man's-land but we have maintained it since 1955."

Murphy doesn't think the current problems with the cracking beach trail would prohibit plantings, since there is a buffer area between the trail and the landscaping. He also isn't sure why some hoteliers have an issue with the project.

"The trees are paid for and the city is doing the installation," he said. "It's only going to benefit them."

Comments
‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

PORT RICHEY — The first call came into emergency dispatch at 4 p.m. on Sunday from shore, reporting a ‘giant’ boat on fire in the Pithlachascotee River."It’s urgent," the caller said.Others followed quickly, one woman crying as she described from her...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

GIBSONTON — A 46-year-old man was arrested Wednesday by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on 50 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child.Authorities said they received several tip...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire

Cory Byrd said he still has nightmares about the smoke. In them, he is back in the cabin of the Express Shuttle II, scrambling to reach the white rectangle of an open door. The smoke was so thick, he said, you could barely see an outstretched hand. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

LARGO — For years, county sheriffs in the United States have faced a quandary when asked by federal officials to hold undocumented immigrants in their local jails. They could continue to hold them for up to two days past the time they were legally fr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa called Wednesday for artists to send in their ideas for a big piece of public art for the outdoor plaza between one of the $3 billion project’s office buildings and the new University of South Florida Morsani College of Med...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tourism brought in record $112 billion to Florida in 2016

Tourism brought in record $112 billion to Florida in 2016

Tourism brought in a record $112 billion to Florida’s economy in 2016, up about 3 percent from 2015, according to Visit Florida figures released Wednesday. About 10 percent — $88 billion — of the state’s gross domestic product came from tourism in 20...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Apple to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Apple to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is planning to build another corporate campus and hire 20,000 workers during the next five years as part of a $350 billion commitment to the U.S. that will be partially financed by an upcoming windfall from the c...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

LA SEGUNDAA Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrated that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Temperatures falling fast; freeze warnings issued for Tampa Bay

Temperatures falling fast; freeze warnings issued for Tampa Bay

UPDATE: The National Weather Service has issued freeze warnings for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties.A cold air mass is moving southward through the Florida peninsula dropping temperatures across the Tampa Bay ar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
McDonald’s manager gets ovation at Seminole Heights investigation ceremony

McDonald’s manager gets ovation at Seminole Heights investigation ceremony

TAMPA — Delanda Walker, the McDonald’s employee who gave police the tip that led to an arrest in the Seminole Heights slayings, received a standing ovation Wednesday during a ceremony thanking citizens who helped in the investigation.Mayor Bob Buckho...
Updated: 3 hours ago