TARPON SPRINGS — Earlier this summer, city officials received word that their long running efforts to secure federal funding for the Anclote River dredging project had been rewarded in the form of $3.5 million from the Army Corps of Engineers.
The news marked the culmination of a group effort by city, county and state officials to put the funding in place necessary to complete the project and came a few months after Gov. Rick Scott allocated $675,000 in the state budget for spoil islands to be used during the dredging.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, the City Commission acknowledged state Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, who city officials say played an instrumental role in helping the city secure the state funding.
Sprowls, Mayor Chris Alahouzos said, is a friend of Tarpon Springs who “knows very well the importance of the Anclote River and how important it is to our local economy.”
Sprowls “worked very hard” to secure the state funding, which the city will spend on the spoil sites for the materials dredged from the Anclote River, Alahouzos said.
“We appreciate all your services, not only helping us with the dredging but for everything else that you did representing us in Tallahassee,” the mayor told Sprowls while presenting the lawmaker with a thank-you plaque from the city.
After accepting the plaque, Sprowls spoke about the group effort that moved the project forward.
“We live in these very divisive political times,” the 34-year-old lawmaker said. “And I think the natural progression of that is that people get frustrated with their government, they get frustrated that they feel like people aren’t putting their heads together to solve problems. And one of the nice things that I have is I have the opportunity to tell the people here in north Pinellas County that’s not true for us.”
Sprowls, who has been in the Florida House since 2014, is seeking re-election. He is being challenged by Democrat Sally Laufer, also a Palm Harbor area resident.
The Anclote River dredging project, Sprowls said, is “one of those really shining examples of government leaders across levels of government, across political spectrum, coming together to say this is a real problem that impacts our community and we’re going to solve it.”