Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs may evict inactive sponge boats from dock

Tarpon Springs commissioners are debating — again — how to evict from the dock those sponge boats not actually sponging.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Tarpon Springs commissioners are debating — again — how to evict from the dock those sponge boats not actually sponging.

TARPON SPRINGS — The sponge industry has been the pulse that keeps things moving in Tarpon Springs.

When the boats return from weeks of pulling up the sponges from the ocean's floor, they anchor at the city's dock and become an instant tourist attraction.

Understanding the importance of the sponge to the city's coffers and attractiveness, the boats have been allowed to dock at no charge. But concerned now that boats are sitting idle for months on end and not doing any active sponging, the City Commission wants to force those that are not making regular trips from their docking spaces.

"We want rules that will be fair, but rules that will be a way for us to weed out the people that are actually doing the sponging and those who are not," said City Manager Mark LeCouris. "We want to set the rules so everyone knows them to have the privilege of that docking space."

If city commissioners approve a new ordinance at tonight's meeting, sponge boaters will be required to prove that they make at least $20,000 in sales a year from gathering the natural resource.

The sponge boats will not be allowed to be docked for four consecutive months, unless there is a some unforeseen problem such as an hurricane.

In addition, sponge boats will be charged a yearly $165 fee. The fee is to cover the city's expense for water and electricity.

"If you make less than that, that means you are not making a living out of a sponge boat," said Taso Karistinos, 57, who owns the sponge boat dubbed Anastasi (which means resurrection). "If the city chases boats away, the city will lose. But I think the proposal is pretty fair. You chase out the ones that never move out of there."

The city has 16 sponge boat docking spaces with 14 active sponge boats. The city contacted boat owners last week about a workable limit.

Several thought that $10,000 in sales would be a better figure. The city's staff is recommending $20,000.

Everyone knows the importance of sponge boats to the city. But the sponge boats are more of an attraction when they actually have sponges.

"The focus is now how do we keep attracting more people to the sponge docks and with the economic changes in the country, Disney World is quite expensive," said Mayor Beverley Billiris. "You can spend the day on the sponge dock. That's the message we still need to get out."

The City Commission also could increase the fees it charges at its 21-slip marina tonight. The daily rates will increase from 90 cents per foot of boat length to $1.50 per foot. A 26-foot boat that pays about $23 a day would now pay $39. That would be a 65 percent increase.

Monthly rates for residents, which are determined by the square footage of the slip, would go up an average of 15 percent. An 800-square-foot slip would go from $208 a month to $240. A 560-square-foot slip would go from $146 to $168.

Commercial and nonresident vessels would pay higher fees for monthly use: $300 for an 800-square-foot slip, up from $250; and $210 for a 560-square-foot slip, up from $175.

If both the sponge dock changes and marina fees are approved, they will become effective immediately.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or dalee@sptimes.com.

If you go

Tarpon Springs City Commission meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. today

Where: City Hall, 324 E Pine St., Tarpon Springs

For more information: Call (727) 938-3711 or for the meeting agenda, visit www.ci.tarpon-springs.fl.us/text.html

Tarpon Springs may evict inactive sponge boats from dock 04/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 20, 2009 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.