Saturday, May 26, 2018
News Roundup

Proposal to raise bridge height stirs controversy in Hernando Beach

HERNANDO BEACH — Harry Kasavich believes that when people scope out a waterfront neighborhood for a home, it's their responsibility to make sure that the size of their boat is compatible — just as they would want to make sure their truck fits in the garage.

That's why the Hernando Beach South retiree is vocal in his opposition to a move by some of his neighbors, who own big boats, to build a new, higher bridge on Companero Entra and have everyone in the community foot the $2.36 million bill.

Ballots on the question should be arriving in property owners' mailboxes in the next few days.

Kasavich is voting no.

"Why would you dig up a perfectly good bridge?'' he asks.

Actually, there are several reasons, if you ask those who support the construction of a new bridge.

"This has been an ongoing issue for a long time,'' said Diane Overbeek, president of the Hernando Beach South Property Owners Association, which has not taken a stand on the contentious issue.

For anyone living in Hernando Beach South and the area to the north known as the middle beach — the two sections of the Hernando Beach community that have only indirect access to the Gulf of Mexico — a boat trip under the bridge is necessary to get to the open water.

"This bridge is so low … it's difficult to get under it,'' especially when the tide is high, Overbeek said.

In a flier handed out in the community, Jim Garrett, chairman of the community bridge committee, which is not affiliated with the homeowners group, urges property owners to vote "yes."

Previous attempts to build a higher bridge have never gotten this far, he mentions and goes on to say, "The only way we can get this done is to do it ourselves. If we think of the good of the community and not just ourselves we can do it.''

If 51 percent of property owners returning their ballots concur, and the County Commission approves, fees will be assessed on the owners' annual property tax bills through a municipal services benefits unit.

The county is estimating that, for those who choose to finance their fees over a 20-year period, the cost would be $221 per year. The one-time fee paid in full would be $2,493.

Jim Rice, a member of the bridge committee and the owner of a boat that would benefit from a higher bridge, said that is a small amount to pay when one presumes that, with a new bridge, property values will rise.

"If you keep your home for 10 years and you don't think your home will rise 1 percent a year, then don't vote for it,'' Rice said. "You've got to put this in perspective. It's very much become an emotional argument.''

Residents for and against have been going door to door, arguing their points. Fliers have gone out to board members of property owners group, and position papers have been posted in the community newsletter.

For Kasavich, there is just no upside.

"I don't want to see this bridge go in,'' he said. "There's no net gain to me.''

He also questions why his county commissioner, Chairman Wayne Dukes, is openly supporting the "yes" vote. He pointed to an impromptu boat parade on Saturday in which Dukes rode with Rice in a boat that declared "vote yes'' on the "new bridge'' in big banners and flags.

Dukes said he didn't expect that the bridge committee was going to tout his involvement with the issue. He said he supports the process of letting residents vote for the bridge. If they vote in favor of it, Dukes said, he would support the project. If they vote against it, he said, that shows there is insufficient support.

While he lives in Hernando Beach, Dukes won't vote because his portion of the community has direct gulf access and the bridge project doesn't affect him, other than that the bridge is on the street that he takes to get home.

The issue has generated plenty of questions in the various Hernando Beach neighborhoods, including confusion over who will have to pay.

The benefits unit that would be created to build the new bridge and raze the old one only affects those on the freshwater side of the land bridge and boat lift on the south end of Hernando Beach.

The land bridge, or dike, was ordered decades ago by state environmental regulators to keep freshwater and saltwater separate.

Residents whose homes are on freshwater must navigate through the community's canals to the boat lift if they want to get into the gulf. At the lift, they maneuver over the land bridge.

Once in the saltwater, they must go under the bridge on Companero Entra. The current clearance at the bridge is 5 feet at mean low water. The proposal for the new bridge would add 6 feet of clearance.

That would allow for both bigger boats to be based in neighborhoods that do not have direct gulf access and would mean less worry about the timing of trips out or back home, proponents say.

Residents have until June 4 to return their ballots.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Comments
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

I may have cracked the code. Found a way to sell doing the right thing. Discovered a method of persuasion in certain matters of fairness, conscience and the greater good.Like giving our fellow Americans a second chance.When morality-based arguments d...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 11 hours ago
In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

TAMPA — Michael Bratt told a story.He said that Hernando County sheriff’s deputies attacked him in his home early one morning eight years ago, beat him severely on his front lawn, and continued the assault as they took him to a hospital.But another s...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 11 hours ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Published: 05/25/18
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Published: 05/25/18