TARPON SPRINGS — City commissioners recently agreed to move forward with surveys for two sections of South Spring Boulevard, the next steps in the city’s plan to improve pedestrian safety and alleviate flooding in the area.
During a special session held virtually Oct. 6, the board unanimously approved a pair of surveys as well as geotechnical services to be performed along the western right of way of South Spring between Craig Park and Carolina Avenue and at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, South Spring and Pineapple Street.
According to officials the work on the right of way area, which is primarily covered in tons of boulders as part of a rip-rap landscape feature installed roughly a decade ago, would cost $38,100, money that hasn’t been allocated in the budget and would come from surplus Penny for Pinellas funds. The $24,765 estimated for the MLK intersection has already been included in the budget for the design of a potential roundabout in the triangle portion of the area, according to City Manager Mark LeCouris.
The cost to do both areas at once is $62,865, an option LeCouris recommended.
“My recommendation is to do both,” he told the commission when the item was read. “I like to see all the facts in front of us immediately rather than waiting, so I would strongly prefer to do both of them together.”
The five commissioners agreed.
“In this situation I think it makes sense to have all the data to evaluate South Spring and the intersection all at one time,” Vice-Mayor Jacob Karr said.
Commissioners Townsend Tarapani, Connor Donovan and Costa Vatikiotis echoed that sentiment, with Tarapani noting the city needs the baseline data the surveys would provide before they move forward with any infrastructure improvements in the area.
Mayor Chris Alahouzos asked what kind of savings the city could see by doing both surveys at the same time and was told by Project Administration Department Director Bob Robertson the savings would be nominal, around 10%, while Donovan inquired how the work would aid future efforts to help alleviate flooding in the area.
“It gives us the baseline elevations of what the ground level is but it also helps with subsurface utility engineering, or SUE work, where we are able to locate utilities that are in the area to avoid them with the installation of future infrastructure,” Robertson replied, adding the work would also help locate the elevations of storm pipes and storm outfalls. “So, it’s a pretty comprehensive data package.”
Following a public comment from Panagiotis Koulias, who said the “citizens of Tarpon Springs do not want a roundabout” in the intersection or a path in place of the rip rap and questioned whether the commissioners “do what they want without listening to the people who elected them,” the commissioners unanimously agreed to move forward with both surveys by a vote of 5-0.
After the meeting, Alahouzos spoke about the impending work that will become the foundation for future improvements slated for the area.
“What we approved is a topographical survey to collect data in two areas of South Spring Boulevard, along the waterfront and at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive,” he said, adding, “we decided to do both at once because regardless of what design we have for the intersection we have to have this study done.”
Noting he’s been an advocate of improving the flooding problem in the city as well as doing something about the rip rap, Alahouzos said, “it’s important to gather this information and prepare for technical designs. So, it’s good we are moving forward with these studies because it’s something that we need to do, and it’s good we are doing it together.”