New Plan for Clock Tower Makes Some Largo Citizens Wonder About the Expenditure
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO – It was pulled from the agenda at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting before any discussion or action could take place, but those citizens who watch developments in the city, particularly spending, were shaking their heads wondering if Item 18 was some kind of shuffle.
No explicit reason was given as to why the city staff decided not to proceed with the revival of the clock tower project which now, it turns out according to a supporting memorandum, has become two projects.
What was clear in all this dipsy-doodle, now you see it now you don’t exercise is that the now double-pronged project, long thought dead, had been revived, and further, that it had undergone extensive revision.
The project is all about re-doing the clock tower that is now on the southeast corner of Seminole Boulevard and Bay Drive. It is supposed to be the signature symbol of the city. And it is – right there on the city seal.
Last summer, when another “shuffle” took place, the project seemingly died. The cost then was put at $300,000 and then it was discovered that the outlay would be augmented by some $68,900 to install 13 very expensive trees.
Tuesday night, the commission was scheduled to be brought up to date on the latest doings for the “Clock Tower Water Fountain Project,” as it is called.
But the presentation was called off with no explanation given. Speculation was that those citizens who keep a sharp eye out would be in strong opposition. “Hard economic times bring a very close look at expenditures,” one former member of the City Commission said.
While all the buzz about the project died down after last July’s revelations of a cost upwards of $400,000, it turns out the city very quietly awarded a contract to a company named Tampa Contracting Services not to exceed $295,950 for designing and building services in response to a Request for Proposal.
But changes and revisions have been made to the plan that was submitted.
A new design included removing the water feature from the corner of Largo Central Park where the present clock tower is located.
The clock now there would be removed, there would be new landscaping at the site and a new clock tower would be placed across Seminole Boulevard in the triangular area there.
Meetings took place with the contractor because the city now wants the source of funding to pay for the project to come from the Penny for Pinellas fund.
So the request from the staff Tuesday night would have been to get commission approval to “disappropriate” the funding from the city’s general fund and place it in the Penny for Pinellas fund.
What would take place is the removal of $285,888 as an outlay from the general fund and a new appropriation of $210,000 from the Penny for Pinellas fund.
While this complication might confuse some of the citizenry, the plan goes on to explain that another $100,000 – in a totally separate project – would be needed for the new clock tower.
Thus, the bottom line, for a project that was to cost $300,000 – not counting those trees at $5,300 each – will now cost $310,000.
Called off last night, the whole shebang is due back before the commission in the future and it is expected to be accompanied by plenty of controversy, which has been its history thus far.
Police Chief Lester Aradi was honored by the Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas with its “Making a Difference” award.
Aradi’s efforts brought about a “Silver Alert” program for the State of Florida, a program that provides statewide help in locating Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who may have strayed from home and become lost.
Originally a pilot project in Pinellas County, the efforts of Aradi and others enabled it to spread statewide.
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