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BEACHES NOTEBOOK

(ran BEACH edition)

Treasure Island

City commissioners are scheduled to consider a resolution Tuesday to raise the cost of Causeway Bridge passes from $20 to $30 per vehicle. The new price would take effect in December when the passes go on sale at City Hall.

The additional money is needed to help the city secure funding for a $50-million drawbridge planned in the next five years. No residents showed up at a public workshop last week to oppose the increase.

The 50-cent toll for cars without an annual pass is not expected to rise this year. City officials say they raise more money each year from the 50-cent tolls than annual passes. A more expensive pass would be less attractive to tourists and visitors, they predict.

Treasure Island collects between $325,000 and $350,000 annually from the sales of bridge passes. The city raises between $1.1-million and $1.2-million from the 50-cent collections at the toll booth baskets. A $10 increase in annual passes would generate another $175,000 a year.

Consultants helping the city plan a new bridge say Treasure Island will run out of bridge funds in 15 years if it doesn't start increasing the toll fees. Those toll fees are expected to pay the majority of the cost for the new bridge, along with capital bonds and grants.

The existing 64-year-old structure is deteriorating and costing the city thousands of dollars each year to maintain.

The size of the city's Planning and Zoning Board is expected to be reduced from 15 to 10 Tuesday when city commissioners consider a new ordinance.

Commissioners are scheduled to conduct a second public hearing and a vote at their regular meeting, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 120 108th Ave.

The Treasure Islettes will hold their annual bazaar, luncheon and car party from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Treasure Island Community Center, 1 Park Place in Treasure Island.

For information, contact Marian Alton at 360-0164.

St. Pete Beach

The state Department of Transportation is expected to begin work on widening Blind Pass Road shortly after Jan. 1.

The project, which will widen Blind Pass to five lanes, was scheduled to begin four months ago. It will cost $3.75-million.

The agency is considering installing a temporary stoplight near St. John's Catholic Church to help with traffic flow during construction.

Redington Beach

Former candidate Linda Wilson finally got her seat on the commission Tuesday, replacing Laura Canniff, who resigned when she sold her home.

"This was the longest campaign in history," Wilson joked after taking her oath of office. She ran unsuccessfully last year against John Fish and Judy Orzech.

Wilson, 34, was nominated by Fish and approved unanimously as the town's finance commissioner. She will serve until next March, when the remaining year of the seat's two-year term will be filled in a town-wide election.

Wilson moved to Redington Beach in 1998 and has lived in Florida for more than 26 years. She was appointed to the town planning board in 1999 and is an active member of the Redington Beach Property Owners Association. She is a member of the Community Policing Institute and St. Jerome's Catholic Church. Wilson received her bachelor's degree in business management from Nova University, and worked seven years as a corporate account executive and three years as an associate territory manager. She and her husband Chuck have a 3-year-old daughter Shannon and a 6-month-old boy Chase.

Acting Town Clerk Jill Pearson, who was put on probation several months ago when the mayor said her personal life interfered with town business, got a $2,500 raise Tuesday.

Mayor Jerry Reitz, who also has canceled Pearson's probationary status, told the commission that he approved the raise because Pearson recently completed a clerk certification course. Pearson's salary is now $27,500.

Pinellas Suncoast

Fire & Rescue District

Firefighters soon will have a new truck to keep shiny and help put out fires. Like the existing truck, the new Pierce model is just under 30 feet long, with a 75-foot extendable boom. The new $550,000 fire engine also features a tandem axle, which makes for a tighter turning radius. The old truck, bought new in 1988, has racked up 115,000 miles but could sell for as much as $150,000, said Chief John Leahy Jr.

At a meeting last week, commissioners also approved $60,000 for a truck bay and living quarters for Station 26. That crew now works out of Parsley's by the Gulf, a mobile home park in Redington Shores.

North Redington Beach

The commission on Thursday endorsed putting underground utility lines in neighborhoods and directed the town's mayor to get a definitive cost. "We have $4-million (in reserves). I'd like to enjoy it now," said Commissioner Ray Jay Jagielski.

Mayor Harold Radcliffe questioned whether the town should proceed with the neighborhood project when costs for undergrounding on Gulf Boulevard, as proposed by Pinellas County, are unknown. Commission members argued that such a project is potentially years away.

Radcliffe estimates the neighborhood project could cost $1-million or more but will not require an increase in property taxes. Residents would be charged, however, for the cost of actually connecting to the underground utilities.

Indian Rocks Beach

Antique automobile owners are invited to show their cars at the 24th Annual Fall Festival, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday in Kolb Park, next to City Hall. The registration fee is $5.

The festival is host to a fine arts and crafts show, a pancake breakfast, bake, book and plant sale, Chalk Walk 2001, local bands and food and drinks.

For information call the Beach Art Center, 596-4331.

_ Compiled by Times staff writer Amy Wimmer and correspondents Kathy Saunders, Sheila Mullane Estrada and Andrew Meacham. To submit items for publication in the beaches notebook, e-mail wimmersptimes.com.

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