Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs City Commission buys controversial downtown land

The Tarpon Springs City Commission voted Tuesday night to buy the property at 143 Tarpon Ave. What the property will be used for will be decided later, commissioners decided.

DEMORRIS A. LEE | Times

The Tarpon Springs City Commission voted Tuesday night to buy the property at 143 Tarpon Ave. What the property will be used for will be decided later, commissioners decided.

TARPON SPRINGS — The City Commission voted Tuesday night to buy downtown land, but left it to commissioners seated after next month's election to decide just what to do with it.

The property could be used to connect Tarpon Avenue to an Orange Street parking lot, for a city park or both.

"No official decision has been made what to do with the property," City Attorney Jim Yacavone said after the 3-2 vote.

The commission directed Yacavone to close on the property at 143 Tarpon Ave. by March 15. It also gave Mayor Beverley Billiris authority to sign documents.

Irene Weissenborn of Naples agreed to accept the city's $150,000 offer for the property that her brothers bought with sponge-diving proceeds. The offer is 25 percent more than the $120,000 appraised value.

"By voting to purchase the property, the intent is to complete the 10-year-old plan," said John Tarapani, a downtown property owner. "And that's parking and a pedestrian connection that can be used as a multiple-purpose lot for special events."

The property is a source of controversy, and the new commission will likely have to sort things out.

Last year, some downtown property owners were alarmed when they learned a group was planning to turn the property into a park. They said the land was previously designated as a connector between Tarpon Avenue and 40 parking spaces built in 2003 at East Orange Street and Safford Avenue.

A March 9 municipal election will replace Billiris and Commissioner Peter Dalacos, who have reached their term limits. Incumbent Chris Alahouzos is running for reelection and faces political newcomer Beverly Kurpinski.

Billiris, Alahouzos and Commissioner Susan Slattery voted to buy the property. Dalacos and Commissioner Robin Saenger voted against.

On March 16, a day after the closing deadline on the property, the new commission will be sworn in.

David Archie, who faces Matt King for mayor, met with a few downtown property owners Tuesday. He said he is still not convinced that a connector is what's needed for the property.

"I don't think that's the best use for the money," Archie said.

Figures as high as $300,000 to complete a connector have been discussed, but no solid numbers have been presented.

King said he's also concerned about the cost of the project.

"I don't have an objection to it being a connector to Orange Street," King said Tuesday. "My concern would be, and I don't know the answer to that right now, how much would that deplete (Community Redevelopment Area) funds? My vote would have to take that into account."

Alahouzos said the land should become a combination of parking, a park and public restrooms. He noted that the city currently rents public restrooms from a downtown business.

"Every time I speak to a business owner, they always want to talk about parking and public restrooms," Alahouzos said. "This property can contain both."

Kurpinski, his opponent, disagreed.

"I don't think using that piece of ground for a cut-through parking lot is best right now," she said. "The money could be used for the betterment of someplace else."

Jeff Larsen and Joe Muzio are fighting for Dalacos' seat. Larsen said he wasn't prepared to state a position. He said "it's something that needs to be discussed further."

Muzio said maintaining the property's value should be a concern.

"I would like to see a building in that area," Muzio said. "I don't believe making that a parking lot is the best use of that property. As a Realtor, the best use for a property is its prior usage, and that was a building."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4174.

Tarpon Springs City Commission buys controversial downtown land 02/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Days were lost': Why Puerto Rico is still suffering a month after Hurricane Maria

    Hurricanes

    MAUNABO, PUERTO RICO — Before Hurricane Maria tore through the rest of this island, it came to Mayor Jorge Márquez's home.

    A man wades through a flooded road, past a boat, in the Toa Ville community two days after the impact of Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Because of flooding, thousands of people are being evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) CGPR130
  2. With college looming, Channel Drive band finds a way to keep on rocking

    Human Interest

    A year and a half.

    That's the time Channel Drive, a band made up of local high school students, had to organize concerts, create music, produce an album and perform in front of audiences before three-fourths of the group were to leave for college.

    One of Channel Drive’s favorite venues is the Brass Mug in North Tampa. Here, from left to right, Colby Williams, Jacob Fleming and Ricardo Ponte command the stage while Alex Carr handles drums.
  3. Florida's unemployment hits 3.8 percent, lowest since April 2007

    Economic Development

    Florida's unemployment rate continued its downward tear in September to hit 3.8 percent — the lowest since April 2007 — as the state lost 127,400 jobs over the month.

    Florida's unemployment rate dropped from 4 percent in August to 3.8 percent in September. Pictured is 
Shantia Blackmon (left),from St. Petersburg, talking with Jocelyn Kelley from North Carolina at a Pinellas Schools County Job Fair in June. | [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Study: When you die, your brain knows you're dead

    Health

    Have you ever wondered what happens after you die?

    According to a new study from NYU, researchers say that a person's brain may function after their death. [iStockPhoto]

  5. Gradebook podcast: On HB 7069, with Palm Beach schools superintendent Robert Avossa

    Blogs

    After months of discussion, several Florida school districts filed suit against the Legislature over the contentious HB 7069, calling parts of it unconstitutional. At the same time, some of them also sought grant funding established in the same measure. The Palm Beach County school district did both. Superintendent …

    Palm Beach superintendent Robert Avossa