When council members get back from their holiday break, one item will be at the top of their agendas — the spiffy new Publix just down the road from City Hall.
The Publix, at 7880 113th St. N, opened in mid December in the storefront of a former Albertsons. It's just across from Seminole Mall, where the old Publix was.
From the time Publix announced that it would renovate the former Albertsons and move across the street, Seminole officials and many residents have worried about traffic issues — particularly the problem of older residents trying to cross the busy, multilane 113th Street to get to the Publix from Seminole Gardens and Freedom Square.
Although Seminole officials are concerned, they couldn't readily do anything about those concerns. The new Publix is in an unincorporated area of the county, and 113th belongs to the county. They've spent several months negotiating with county officials about the situation and finally got an answer — they can do something, but don't expect the county to pay for it.
So the City Council asked staff members to come up with a solution and a cost. That's almost done.
"My guess is that we'll be coming back to council in a January workshop to see if they want to pursue that project," City Manager Frank Edmunds said.
Council members can decide then if they want to spend the money to alleviate traffic problems.
In the meantime, Pinellas County sheriff's deputies are keeping a close watch on the situation, spokeswoman Cecelia Barreda said.
They have been advising pedestrians to cross at Park Boulevard and 113th where there's a crosswalk, then go back north to the store.
Thus far, Barreda said, despite the packed parking lot — it's crammed at all times — there have been no significant problems with the change in traffic and pedestrian flow, but deputies will continue to watch the situation.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at (727) 893-8450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.