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Federal bucks to give brick streets new life

Some of the brick streets in Safety Harbor will get needed repairs as early as next year with the help of federal dollars, officials say.

Mayor Pam Corbino got the news Wednesday that the city would get $500,000 in U.S. Housing and Urban Development money to redo brick streets near downtown.

"We're very excited," Corbino said. "People love the brick streets because they are a part of the small town, traditional feel. And it's very important from a historical point of view that we maintain that part of our town."

To be repaired are portions of Second and Third Avenues, as well as segments of Second, Third and Fourth Streets.

The cost to replace the aged and broken bricks will be about $1.17-million.

In addition to the HUD money, the city will pay for the work with $400,000 from the Penny for Pinellas sales tax and $220,000 from the city's general fund.

During the repairs, the roads will have to be torn out and water and sewer pipes and storm drainage systems will be replaced at a cost of about $50,000. That money will come from the city's water and sewer fund.

"There are situations where there are some significant dips in the road," said Wayne Logan, interim city manager. "It's just to get them back to where they're drivable."

The city has a five-year plan to repair all the brick streets in town, and is looking for alternative ways to pay for the repairs, which will total $6-million.

"We initially had asked for $3-million, which is half what it would take to complete the entire project," Corbino said. "But then we realized that we could not spend that much money in one year.

"So we broke it down where we should ask for hundreds of thousands each year," she added. "We are just happy to get what we can."

In January, city commissioners agreed to hire Washington lobbyist Mike Carter to help secure funding for this phase.

"This is the first time Safety Harbor has lobbied to get federal support for their programs," said Carter, who is from Clearwater. "Other cities get it and it seems like Safety Harbor should, too."

Joanie Hayes, who lives on one of the brick streets, was excited to hear the news.

"My street isn't too bad, but some of them are real bad," said Hayes, a 20-year resident who lives on Second Avenue. "I love our brick streets, and I think it makes our town very quaint and very awesome, so I hope they do replace them."