Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs officials reconsidering Sponge Docks plan

TARPON SPRINGS — The fight over the Sponge Docks is far from over. In fact, it's ramping up.

Critics continue to blast the city's $1.3 million plan to beautify and enhance the well-known tourist district. They're passing around petitions and packing meetings at City Hall. They intend to keep it up all spring.

Most importantly: They're starting to make Tarpon Springs city commissioners have second thoughts about the project. This is mainly because critics are asserting that federal authorities won't allow the city to install a planned boardwalk or transient boat docks because they would become navigation hazards on the Anclote River.

Mary Klimis Coburn, an attorney who represents several Sponge Docks business and property owners, calls the city's plans ill-informed.

She says that sponge divers park their boats two abreast on the river's south side, and shrimpers park their boats three abreast on the river's north side, leaving a relatively narrow channel in between. She contends that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won't allow an 8-foot-wide boardwalk on the water's edge because that would make it too difficult for boats to get through. It could also interfere with dredging the river, she says.

"The city of Tarpon Springs has put forth an unpermittable plan," Coburn said.

City Manager Mark LeCouris scoffs at this. Tarpon staffers believe the boardwalk wouldn't be a problem. He said the city has seen no evidence to indicate otherwise.

"Why would we do something to block up the river? It doesn't make sense," he said. "Our people have said there's enough room. But if we can't get it permitted, there will be no wooden dock. That money will go toward something else."

Tarpon Springs commissioners haven't yet voted to go through with the project. That could happen in May, after construction bids for the work come in.

Commissioners have repeatedly expressed support for the plan, which is intended to spruce up the Sponge Docks and make them more inviting for tourists. And earlier this month, a candidate who publicly supported the plan was elected to the commission by a wide margin.

But Commissioners Townsend Tarapani and David Banther said Wednesday and Thursday that the city shouldn't proceed until questions about the river have been addressed.

This is a shift in gears, because most critics have been voicing a different complaint — that the plans look too modern for the historic district.

Staff writer Nova Beall contributed to this report. Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBrassfield.

Tarpon Springs officials reconsidering Sponge Docks plan 03/20/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2014 6:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fennelly: Bucs' Roberto Aguayo has his backers, no matter how many kicks he misses

    Bucs

    He was perfect Friday, and not just because he didn't have to kick.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) takes a photo with fans following the first day of training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, July 28, 2017.
  2. Starbucks to close all Teavana locations, including five in Tampa Bay

    Retail

    Local Teavana locations include Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg, International Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa, Brandon and Clearwater.

    Starbucks announced Thursday plans to shut down all 379 Teavana stores, citing "underperformance." Starbucks acquired the mall-based tea chain for $620 million in 2012. [ CANDICE CHOI | AP file photo]
  3. What to watch this weekend: 'The Last Tycoon,' 'Room 104,' 'Rick and Morty'

    Blogs

    Checking in: Room 104

    Listen up, fans of Hitchcock and American Horror Story. Room 104 might be your next obsession. With a premise that feels experimental, Room 104 explores one of film's most traditional styles - telling a story from the inside of just one room. The HBO series is from …

    Each episode of Room 104 follows the guests of a single motel rom and the strange and wonderful things they experience.
  4. Rubio: I intend to keep campaign promises on Obamacare

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Sen. Marco Rubio says he remains committed to overturning Obamacare following the collapse of the latest attempt.

  5. Family spokeswoman: British baby Charlie Gard has died

    World

    LONDON — Charlie Gard, the critically ill British baby at the center of a legal battle that attracted the attention of Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, has died. He would have turned 1 next week.

    This is an undated photo of sick baby Charlie Gard provided by his family, taken at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. [Family of Charlie Gard via AP]