Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

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 [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBrassfield.

Comments
Focus crossover and Mustang will be only Ford sedans sold in North American dealerships

Focus crossover and Mustang will be only Ford sedans sold in North American dealerships

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it will shed most of its North American car lineup as part of broad plan to save money and make the company more competitive in a fast-changing marketplace.The changes include getting rid of all cars in...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

TAMPA — As the Tampa Bay Lightning wait for the Boston Bruins to come to town for the next round of playoffs, the city’s business community — large and small — say they’ve already won this NHL postseason.At WestShore Plaza this week, with blue and wh...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Rescuing the rescuers from the trauma of seeing buddies crash to their deaths

Rescuing the rescuers from the trauma of seeing buddies crash to their deaths

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE — In his mind, Lee Von Hack-Prestinary kept circling the crash site.His friends were in the wreckage below, and he couldn’t help.The memory brought him to tears.Seated across from him, at Patrick Air Force Base near Cocoa Beach...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Arrest made in stolen St. Petersburg car with baby inside

Arrest made in stolen St. Petersburg car with baby inside

ST PETERSBURG — A man accused of stealing a car with a baby inside earlier this week was arrested early Thursday morning when police spotted him in another stolen car. Rashad Webb, 19, no known address, was arrested around 2 a.m. after officers spott...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 8-4 win over Orioles

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 8-4 win over Orioles

Marc Topkin's takeaways from the Rays 8-4 win over the Orioles on Wednesday:* RHP Alex Cobb is going to be Alex Cobb again. But it seemed clear from watching him against his old Rays mates he's not quite ready yet, the result of signing in late March...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump says Cohen represented him in

Trump says Cohen represented him in "Stormy Daniels deal"

President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday for the first time that his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen represented him in efforts to silence Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who has alleged a sexual encounter with Trump more than a de...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Three things to know about new Land O’Lakes football coach Chad Walker

Three things to know about new Land O’Lakes football coach Chad Walker

Chad Walker, 34, is the new football coach at Land O'Lakes, inheriting a team that went 4-5 under Brian Wachtel in 2017. Walker played college football at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., from 2002-05. He didn't move to Florida until Jan. 1, 20...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecast in first quarter

Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecast in first quarter

TAMPA — Outback Steakhouse parent company Bloomin’ Brands reported first-quarter earnings of $65.4 million and a 68 cents net income per share.The locally based company, which also owns Carrabba’s and Bonefish Grill, posted $1.12 billion in revenue. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan makes offer for Wembley Stadium

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan makes offer for Wembley Stadium

LONDON — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has made an offer to buy Wembley Stadium from the English Football Association, increasing the prospect of an NFL franchise in London.Wembley has staged regular-season NFL games since 2007 and the Jagua...
Updated: 1 hour ago
HUD Secretary proposes raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

HUD Secretary proposes raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies Wednesday, tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.Ca...
Updated: 1 hour ago