Pinellas News

Tarpon to move forward on Spring Bayou lighting

TARPON SPRINGS - Brightening up the walkway around Spring Bayou is one portion of a broader facelift to the scenic area and city officials want to made sure they get it right the first time.
The City Commission approved Public Works Director Tom Funcheon's revised proposal for the Spring Bayou Lighting Plan on Tuesday evening, allowing the delayed project to continue moving forward.
The general concept of the Spring Bayou Lighting Plan has been viewed positively in the past, though has failed to get off the drawing board for years.
Residents and tourists use the popular waterfront walkway on a daily basis and it only receives residual lighting from surrounding sources.
City officials and staff have said at past meetings that brightening up the area would not only improve aesthetics, but would be a benefit to public safety.
Before allowing any work to begin, commissioners wanted a little more information on what was planned for installation and its possible side effects once operational.
The city utilized Cardno TBE, a Tampa-based engineering services firm, to look into the lighting plan's potential affects on marine and land-based wildlife, the surrounding environment and total illumination .
They also took a look at associated costs.
Some findings from the independent review that city staff incorporated in its recommendation Tuesday included increasing the spacing between light posts to 100 from 75 feet. That would reduce the number of total lights from 22 to 19.
Also in relation to brightness, ambient light will be limited by the use of dark sky reflectors that essentially cap each fixture.
According to the Cardno TBE report, the reflectors “prevent light spillage toward the sky and reduce nocturnal environmental impacts to the surrounding area.”
Tuesday's agenda item packet included research from the International Dark-Sky Association, a group that advocates against light pollution.
As recommended in the report, the city plans to implement the use of 70-watt high pressure sodium bulbs that emit a yellow light.
The city originally budgeted $90,000 for the Spring Bayou Lighting Plan. Funcheon wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon that cutting three light posts from the initial plan should allow the city to stay within that budget.
A staff report from last October listed an initial estimated completion date of this August.
The lighting plan is one of three improvements the city is currently working on around the bayou and Craig Park. The others are rehabbing deteriorated portions of the seawall and adding a floating dock at the boat ramp.
Honoring student achievements: City commissioners led off Tuesday's regular meeting on a positive note.
Students from Tarpon Springs-area elementary schools and Tarpon Middle and High schools and their families packed the City Hall auditorium for an annual recognition of perfection.
Eighty-five fifth-, eighth- and 12th-grade students maintained 4.0 grade point averages throughout this school year and each had their name read in front of the packed crowd.
The majority of students were in attendance and walked across stage to receive their awards from city officials.
“I want to thank these students for their hard work and their perseverance in maintaining excellence in terms of making a 4.0 all year long,” Mayor David Archie said while also thanking the educational encouragement provided by the students' parents and families.
Continued stormwater improvements: A month shy of Tropical Storm Debbie's one-year anniversary and its subsequent flooding, the city took another step Tuesday to combat trouble areas during heavy rain events.
The latest area of focus is stormwater improvements on Lemon Street near Disston Avenue.
Commissioners approved the $75,920 property purchase that will allow the city to expand an existing stormwater treatment and storage pond.
The agenda item memorandum states that the increased storage capacity will benefit the area during extreme weather events.
The city is purchasing the parcel of land from private owners Joann Hoffman and Jeffery J. Love and the price is within the Stormwater Action Plan project budget for this fiscal year.
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