TARPON SPRINGS — City officials have decided to build public restrooms at the west end of the Sponge Docks — an amenity that merchants say is badly needed.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the City Commission voted 5-0 to spend $206,681 for the restrooms, which will be in the Hope Street right of way between Dodecanese Boulevard and the Anclote River.
On Thursday afternoon, business owners along the Sponge Docks were happy to hear the news.
"So it's finally going to happen?" asked Carl Erfourth, who was working at the Fudge Factory next to where the restrooms will go. "We get people all time who have to use the bathroom, and we have to send them all the way back up the street."
Chuck Wilson owns Sweeties Ice Cream Parlor and The Spicemans Kitchen, both at the west end of Dodecanese Boulevard. He too welcomes the restrooms.
"It's a big deal, and it's a great thing," he said as he stood in his spice shop. "People usually have to walk back to the Sponge Exchange. Having bathrooms on this end is gong to be an asset."
There are currently public restrooms at the east end of Dodecanese Boulevard at a Welcome Center and near the back of the Sponge Exchange.
The new restrooms were designed by Tarpon's Ed Hoffman of Hoffman Architects. They'll have a maritime feel about them. There will be two stalls for women and two for men. The design also calls for benches, a drinking fountain, lighting and landscaping.
There is currently city-owned parking in the area, which abuts the Anclote River. A completion date for the project wasn't given.
This is the second public restroom project that Tarpon is undertaking in its tourist areas. Facilities are being constructed along Tarpon Avenue in the city's downtown.
"This is going to be a great addition down at the Sponge Docks," Commissioner Susan Slattery said at Tuesday night's meeting. "It's going to look nice, and the store owners are glad … I'm looking forward to a completed product."
In other business Tuesday, the commission unanimously agreed to spend $251,000 to build the southern portion of a park at Safford Avenue and Live Oak Street. The park mainly will be open space with a boardwalk. There will be a bicycle aid station near the Pinellas Trail, and some olive trees may be planted.
Penny for Pinellas funds will pay for $197,000 of the total cost for the park, while $35,000 will come from the city, $5,000 from a Recreation Impact Fund and $14,000 from the city's Tree Bank.
Commissioners also agreed to continue funding the Jolley Trolley and agreed to a solid waste contract with Waste Management. As a result of the new solid waste contract, Tarpon Springs residents will see a significant drop in the amount they pay for curbside trash and yard waste services. On Oct. 1, single-family and mobile homes receiving curbside service twice a week will see their rate drop from $28.78 per month to $16.69. For mobile homes getting service once a week, the rate drops from $22.42 to $14.23. Rear-yard pickup twice a week goes from $38.93 to $34.31 per month.
Residents will also receive a 64-gallon tote for recycling pickup, which is included in the monthly rate.
Rates for twice-weekly curbside commercial pickup will jump from $21.22 a month to $38.40. That 9 percent increase includes a 96-gallon tote.
Contact Demorris A. Lee at email@example.com or (727) 445-4174.