Pinellas News

Residents, business owners discuss Sponge Docks lighting

— The city, residents and business owners have gone back to the drawing board.

Not long-removed from officially scuttling a $1.3 million Sponge Docks Improvement Plan, a small group of residents met Monday at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum to discuss more modest alterations. The evening’s focus was narrow: street lighting.

City Manager Mark LeCouris and Director of Cultural and Civic Services Kathleen Monahan led Monday’s discussion in front of about 25 residents and business owners. LeCouris described street light replacement as the first phase in Sponge Docks renovations.

“We have plenty of time to change, adapt and talk about this more,” LeCouris said. “But again, we don’t have a lot of time because if we want to get a substantial portion of the work done before (the tourist) season, we have to get started.”

Specifics were limited Monday. City officials primarily wanted to gather opinions on the desired appearance of new street lights and posts. New posts will probably increase in height to 20 feet from about 14 feet, LeCouris said.

Each attendee was given a packet showing various types of posts, shades and bulb encasements. No monetary figures — such as price listings and estimated installment fees — were included in Monday’s materials.

“The goal is to get the most light for the least amount of money,” Monahan said, addressing the city’s priorities as the process evolves.

Similar meetings will be held to narrow the project’s focus, but the general consensus was for inverted L-shaped posts rather than those curving at the top. A decorative feature in the elbow of the posts is also desirable, and there was support for being able to hang banners and decorations during special events and holidays.

Other details that will need to be agreed upon in the near future include which energy-efficient bulbs to use, what the post’s foundations will look like, how far to extend the new lights down Dodecanese Boulevard and whether to retain the same spacing between posts.

At least one more meeting at the Heritage Museum, 100 Library Lane, will be arranged later this month. To get most of the new lighting installed before tourist season begins, LeCouris said, he’ll need to get the project on a city commission agenda by June.

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