SAFETY HARBOR— Unexpected holdups pushed the price tag for the city's S Bayshore improvement project $93,000 over budget, and commissioners asked tough questions Monday before agreeing to cough up the extra cash.
In the coming days, the city expects to tie up loose ends on the two-year, $2.3 million project, which includes repaving, improved drainage and a widened sidewalk on S Bayshore Boulevard.
The project began smoothly but faced several setbacks in the past year that caused delays and hiked the cost.
For example, the city found a stretch of clay that had to be replaced with dirt to ensure proper drainage. City officials also did not anticipate how much archaeological work would be required for the project, which is near an Indian burial ground.
Commissioner Cliff Merz questioned whether steps have been taken to ensure the city knows the costs before a project begins.
"Have we come up with some different policies?" he said.
City Manager Matt Spoor replied that some of the extra expense was unforeseeable. But he said Safety Harbor hired a contract specialist, who started Monday, to help officials get as firm a grip as possible on the cost of future projects.
Hiring a contract specialist was an idea long in the works and isn't a result of problems on this project, Spoor said.
Also at Monday's City Commission meeting, officials debated the fate of Safety Harbor's public access television station, pondering whether to split costs and programming with the city of Oldsmar or to scrap the channel altogether. If the cities share, Safety Harbor would pay Oldsmar a $4,000 yearly fee rather than invest $40,000 in new equipment.
The proposal seemed poised for approval until Commissioner Richard Blake questioned whether anyone actually watches the channel, which airs commission meetings and educational programming.
"TV is dead, and I question why we would spend $4,000 per year on something that's dead," he said.
Spoor said he would find out this week how much it would cost to get viewership numbers.
In other action, the commission decided the City Park field and an adjacent stretch of road along S Railroad Avenue will be named for Safety Harbor Little League volunteer Danny Donovan. Donovan died in March as he prepped the park for the night's games.
The memorial came at the request of league president Robert Cursey.
Donovan, who lined the fields, umpired and coached during his two decades as a volunteer, was reluctant to take credit for his work, but it's important to recognize him now, officials said.
"I like honoring people that don't look for the spotlight and stay under the radar," Mayor Joseph Ayoub said. "I think this is very appropriate given how much he's helped with the Little League."
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