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City plans to bury unsightly hardware

Following Dunedin's lead, Safety Harbor is moving some of its ugly power lines underground.

Overhead utility wires and other hardware along select downtown Safety Harbor streets will be buried this summer, city officials said.

The city, which has a five-year plan to repair all of its brick streets, decided March 4 to include in the plan the relocation of utility lines underground.

The cost to do the work is estimated to be $143,914 and will include the installation of nine decorative streetlights like the ones currently lining Main Street.

Although the city moved overhead wires and poles underground along Main Street in 1996, there is no comprehensive plan to continue the work elsewhere.

"But we have decided to start looking at it as a development program where we can underground more utilities and install decorative lighting," said Ron Pianta, the city's community development director. "The commission has expressed interest in doing that."

In the upcoming street project, the city will replace crooked and broken brick pavers along portions of Second and Third avenues and segments of Second, Third and Fourth streets. The entire project is expected to cost about $1.17-million.

To help pay for the work, the city will use a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, $400,000 in Penny for Pinellas sales tax money 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.

The city of Dunedin began the trend of burying wires in 1995 to eliminate poles and prevent falling power lines during heavy storms. That year, the city spent $15,000 to bury utilities along Main Street between Milwaukee Avenue and Highland Street.

The city went on to spend another $150,000 burying lines and recently decided to spend $55,000 more to bury utility wires along Alt. U.S. 19 between Main Street and Skinner Boulevard.

A combination of Community Redevelopment Agency, Penny for Pinellas and gas tax money is being used for the project.

"It's very expensive to do in any place we've done it, but it makes a world of difference once it is done," said Kevin Campbell, community services director for Dunedin. "The beautification aspect of it makes it well worth the money because those ugly overhead posts and lines just disappear."