Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Residents along Safety Harbor's Bishop Creek are losing battle against erosion


SAFETY HARBOR — Joey usually cowers during thunderstorms. So when Bob Keller, 78, heard the golden retriever, along with his other dog, Angel, barking in the back yard on June 24 as Tropical Storm Debby raged, he went to take a look.

"That's when he saw everything had fallen in," said his wife, Joan Keller, 76.

The Kellers live at 3080 Hillside Lane, and their back yard used to border Bishop Creek.

Now, about one-third of it is Bishop Creek.

The collapse of the Kellers' yard, even though the creek bank was fortified by a gabion wall — compact baskets of rocks — is the latest incident in a long history of erosion that has for years maddened those who live along the creek and frustrated efforts by Safety Harbor to protect the homes.

On Monday, residents will ask the City Commission for help.

Some residents say the city's efforts up to this point have been nothing more than quick, ultimately ineffective fixes.

"They've piecemealed this creek for years. They really have," said Leslie Grace, 57, who lives at 61 Harbor Woods Circle. High water from the creek recently caused a tree in Grace's back yard to fall in.

Bishop Creek winds in a generally east-west direction through neighborhoods north of Enterprise Road, and empties into the bay north of Philippe Park.

The city has stacked sandbags, reinforced the creek with gabions, and in some places, lined the creek banks with concrete. But problems persist.

"The first time it was sandbags, the second time it was, like, a cement brick wall, the third time it was gabions," said Pinellas County Commissioner Neil Brickfield, who lives just four houses down from the Kellers, at 3088 Hillside Lane. "I'm not an engineer. I don't know what the next step up is."

Neither does City Engineer Bill Baker, though his department is trying to come up with ideas.

"There's not anything out there that doesn't have something already done to it," he said. "It might be in need of some repair or it might be in need of tuning up, but that will all be discussed at the (Safety Harbor City Commission) meeting Monday night."

City Manager Matt Spoor said fixes by the city have been so varied because of legal and financial constraints. "The city only does what we are permitted to do by the state agencies, the regulatory agencies, at the time we have the money to do it."

Spoor added that the city is not legally bound to take action since the land along the creek is all private property.

Spoor said he will advise the City Commission to approve a $150,000 plan to repair some of the hardest-hit properties along the creek, including the Kellers' house, which is located at a spot where the creek takes a 90-degree turn. During heavy rain, water rushing through the creek bed slams directly into their property.

The edge of the property across from the Kellers' house will likely be rounded out as part of the solution, Spoor said.

But any lasting solution is hard to imagine for residents familiar with the creek's destructive power.

"You're not strong enough physically to cross that creek in a big rainstorm. Nobody is," Brickfield said, adding that he believes the creek would undermine any barrier erected on its banks.

Mark Grossman, 58, the Kellers' next-door neighbor, said the Bishop Creek erosion puts him and his neighbors in a difficult position. "We're losing our property. The city says, 'If you don't like it, sell your house.' Well, who's buying this?"

Meanwhile, the city is similarly constrained, Spoor said.

"We are constantly challenged with having to appease these state regulatory agencies and the residents," he said. "In a way, we're in a no-win situation because I can't predict the next storm or how much water's going to pour into that stream."

Andy Thomason can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155. To write a letter to the editor, go to, or mail letters to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756.


Updated: 6 minutes ago
Woman killed in Largo motorcycle crash could ‘out-game any dude’

Woman killed in Largo motorcycle crash could ‘out-game any dude’

LARGO — Sydney Pender, 27, loved riding her motorcycle, even though she knew the dangers. Three years ago, her friend said, a delivery truck hit her. But she kept riding. On Thanksgiving, it was a crash with a taxi cab that killed her.Pender, a St. P...
Updated: 10 minutes ago

Updated: 2 hours ago

Update: Mother, toddler hit by car in critical condition at TGH

TAMPA — A mother and one of her two small children who were hit by a car while trying to cross Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday were still in the hospital on Thanksgiving, according to Tampa General Hospital.Cassandra Marie Spicola, 29, and 18-month-o...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Pasco County put under immediate tornado warning

The National Weather Service has put out a tornado warning for Pasco County. Thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado and strong winds are expected over Jasmine Estates, New Port Richey and Hudson until 1:15 p.m., according to the NWS warning. Ba...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

It’s going to be a wet Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay, but sunny skies are coming during the long weekend, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from the University of North Florida’s campus — but will remain a student, university officials said.Ken Parker, a 37-year-old Navy veteran who once served as the grand dragon, or highest-ranking leader, of the Ku Klu...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Updated: 9 hours ago
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Lutz pedestrian dies in accident on U.S. 41

LUTZ — A man is dead after deputies said he walked into the path of a car on U.S. Route 41 Wednesday night.Charles Miller, 69 of Lutz, was walking east across the highway at 7:34 p.m., according to Florida Highway Patrol.Daniel Johnson, 35 and also o...
Updated: 10 hours ago