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Creek cleanup rally set

Hundreds of people concerned about the county's plans to clean up Allen's Creek are expected to gather Thursday night for a rally.

"Our goal is to have 1,000 people there. We're shooting for a big deal here," said Don Holcomb, a resident who lives on Allen's Creek.

The rally is being organized by the Allen's Creek Coalition, a group of homeowners who want a voice in determining what will be done with the winding creek that empties into Tampa Bay in mid-Pinellas County. The coalition officially has taken a stand in favor of cleaning up the creek, but the group is opposed to the county tearing down homes to accomplish that goal.

County officials still are developing a final proposal for the Allen's Creek project. But indications are that the project could cost as much as $220-million and take 30 to 50 years to complete.

Residents are most concerned about talk of the county purchasing homes along the creek to obtain property for retention ponds.

Environmental officials say pollution from stormwater runoff is the main problem facing the creek. A series of retention ponds along the edge of the creek would help filter pollutants carried to the creek during storms.

Preliminary plans for the project also call for portions of the creek to be restored to a more natural state. That could mean that sea walls in some areas would be removed and the banks of the creek would be reshaped to a more natural slant and planted with native vegetation.

"We want to see Allen's Creek cleaned up," Holcomb said. "We live on the creek and want to enjoy the creek. Let's clean it up, but not at the expense of all these homeowners."

Holcomb said several elected officials from Pinellas County and the cities of Clearwater and Largo have been invited to the meeting to answer questions from residents. The creek cleanup is envisioned as a joint project between the county and the two municipalities.

The rally will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Paul United Methodist Church. The church is at Rosery Road and Highland Avenue in Clearwater.

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