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INDIAN ROCKS BEACH // Flooding, "business triangle' top issues

Every resident knows that when it rains here it floods. And floods. And floods.

And if it rains during a high tide, it floods some more, as all the water has a harder time trying to discharge through the 54 outfalls into the swollen Intracoastal Waterway.

"During a storm in high tide, it's hard to drain an island," said Jean Scott, a commissioner running for re-election. "If anyone knows how to do it they should move to Florida because it's a big problem here."

Scott joins incumbent Larry Sandefer and commission hopeful Joseph Dima in a three-way race for two at-large commission seats.

Improving stormwater drainage is the key issue in the election, a problem that many on the commission feel is a losing battle with Mother Nature.

Other major issues include finding private money to rebuild the Indian Rocks Pier, encouraging businesses to renovate a "business triangle" just south of where Walsingham dead-ends into Gulf Boulevard, and the burying of utility lines.

Scott and Sandefer said they want to stay on the commission to follow through on projects they have begun.

Scott hopes the business triangle will flourish now that a recent rezoning allows for business there.

"The whole area is pretty dilapidated," she said. "It will make a very unique shopping area were people can park their cars and walk around."

Scott also wants to continue developing a green space park on 12th Avenue and implement more summer programs for children.

Sandefer wants to continue developing a long-range plan for the city, one that involves the burying of utility lines and preserving the town's unique character. "What I'm looking at is a 30-year master plan to implement things a little at a time," he said. "I'm not saying do it all right now, but if someone had started this 20 years ago .

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Sandefer and Scott said the current group of commissioners works well together and they like its current makeup. Dima could change that lineup. He says Scott and Sandefer are out of touch and he is better qualified because of his business experience and broad range of involvement in the community.

"I attend about 15 meetings a month so that puts me in better contact with residents than my opponents," he said.

"Fifteen meetings a month? Geez, I guess the homeowners association board (Dima's a member) meets a lot," Scott said. "I don't know of 15 groups in town."

Scott said she doesn't really know Dima other than that he is her competition. Technically, since the top two vote-getters get elected, so is Sandefer. Scott and Sandefer, however, applaud each other's records.

Dima is also critical of the way he feels the current commission has handled the flooding crises.

"When the Penny for Pinellas tax was sold to the residents of Indian Rocks Beach, it was sold on the premise that it would be used for stormwater runoff," Dima said.

"We have used the Penny for Pinellas money for stormwater drainage projects and studies," Sandefer said. "But when it is high tide, and when there is a storm, there is a point where it is physically impossible to drain an island."

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