Bridge/Causeway to Open Partially for Use May 29, Belleair Beach Council Told
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BEACH - The new Belleair bridge/causeway will be partially opened May 29, Tony Hornick, the project engineer, told City Council members and the public Monday evening.
The $72.2 million construction will not be complete until late November or early December, according to Hornick, who said the project is on schedule and within its budget.
Traffic will begin using the road and bridge in three weeks so that workers can remove the old roadway and bridge and build the retention and recreation areas.
Hornick said there will be some blasting in connection with removing the old bridge and road but that warning would be given to nearby residents in advance.
One glitch – a 64 square foot piece of concrete that came loose from the new bridge because of a fault in the tension cables buried in the concrete – will be fixed, Hornick said.
The problem does not involve any safety but is cosmetic and without repair would leave an unsightly area in the lower parts of the bridge.
The council by a vote of 6-1 amended its ordinance which generally required that any peddler or solicitor had to have a permit. The amending was required because a Supreme Court case, Watchtower v. Stratton, decided in 2002, ruled that requiring a permit violated the First Amendment as it applies to religious proselytizing, anonymous political speech and the distribution of handbills.
But the council retained in the ordinance a requirement that any solicitor exempted from getting a permit but desiring to go through the city first so to inform the city manager.
Mayor Lynn Rives voted no because, he said, of a basic disagreement with the law. In that, he joined then Chief Justice William Rehnquist who was the lone dissenter in the Watchtower case.
The council solved the problem of condominium residents using grills on balconies, and other fire protection issues, by putting all fire code jurisdiction under Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue.
On buying and installing audio/visual equipment in the new city hall which is due to be ready for occupancy and use in August, the council decided to follow the recommendation of Dan Foglia, a consultant, and combine the purchase of materials for the first two phases of the project which are the sound system and the presentation equipment (DVD, projectors, etc.).
A cautionary note was sounded, however, as the council continued its very close scrutiny of expenses when it was decided that once bidding is returned if the costs are too high the time line on these purchases will be modified.
Work on adjusting the city code to conform with federal requirements for runoff and pollution associated with that was completed.
The issue was tabled last month until it could be determined what exactly were the federal requirements.
A question raised by one resident who complained of over bearing light from another residence led to a discussion of lighting standards in the city.
Rives said he was reluctant to create an ordinance because he was “tired of over-legislating.” The city staff is looking into the question and perhaps some form of mediation will be used to solve problems of this sort.
Sand replenishment may grow into a problem. Right now, the city is scrambling to find space for the required parking mandated under law. That is, if you take the beach renourishment you have to have enough parking for the public.
Space is available at the city marina and Morgan Street Park, but more spaces are needed south of Morgan Street. One approach is to persuade condo owners to donate some parking.
One ominous factor looming over all that is the reported possibility of the federal government, which provides something like 60 percent of the cost of beach replenishment, getting out of the program.
It is unlikely that the state, county or local governments could come up with the money to make up for any federal backout.
As to the parking, Nicole Elko, who is Pinellas County’s “coastal coordinator,” says that no parking - on sand is the operative situation.
The council decided that the globe lights – red and green – put up by Sandy and Ed Wisniowski at the marina entrance will remain as is.
The color scheme reflects the nautical “red, right, returning” theme when entering port for ingress to the marina and green for exiting.
Seeing to things at the marina as volunteers has been a project of the Wisniowskis for years.
Pete Cavalli, Community Services and Information Technology Director, who received an award from the Keep Pinellas Beautiful Committee, was recognized for his coordination service over the past three years in coastal clean up.
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