TARPON SPRINGS — After city commissioners agreed in July to let voters decide whether the city should purchase a half-acre parcel across from Craig Park for $650,000 via of referendum question Nov. 3, Mayor Chris Alahouzos said the city would be obligated to abide by their decision.
“Whatever is the decision by the people of Tarpon Springs I am going to work with it,” he said at the time. “If it passes, we purchase it, and if it doesn’t, we won’t. Whatever the people tell us to do.”
Noting the purchase price for the land, known as the Hoffman property, was “quite a bit of money,” the mayor stated, “if we get the approval, we will put it on the agenda and move forward.”
On Election Day the voters spoke, and their message about the Hoffman property was loud and clear, as 9,062, or 63 percent, of the 14,280 votes cast checked ‘yes’ on Referendum Question 1, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website, clearing the way for the Community Redevelopment Agency’s purchase of the lot. Afterward, the mayor restated his promise to let residents have input on the future of the property.
“The people have spoken and as soon as we get the purchase finalized, I’d like to schedule a town hall meeting to discuss what we’re going to do with this property,” Alahouzos said by phone Nov. 4. “I want to get the people’s input on what they want there, either a park or something else, and have a town hall meeting to discuss the possibilities.”
The Hoffman parcel, named for owner Ed Hoffman, is technically comprised of two narrow, vacant lots, and they occupy a coveted spot in the downtown district; situated at the intersection of West Tarpon Avenue and North Spring Boulevard, the property offers a prime view of picturesque Spring Bayou plus easy access to downtown and the nearby Sponge Docks, making it an ideal location for a variety of uses.
During a pair of workshops dedicated to the proposed development of the property, the ideas floated ranged from a mixed-use project featuring retail, residential and a rooftop patio to a new home for the nearby Safford House Museum, meaning any future talks of the property’s use could be contentious.
“I know there’s a lot of ideas out there for this property,” Alahouzos admitted. “But I don’t want to make any decisions how we’re going to use it until we hear from the people. They paid for it, and they should say what to do with it!”