Mayor optimistic state will back Tarpon Springs projects

The city is seeking $724,753 in state funding for the Sponge Docks Flooding Abatement and Anclote River Extended Turning Basin Dredging project. Total cost of the project is $2.2 million.

TARPON SPRINGS — In the season of giving, Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos is also hoping for some getting from the state.

The City Commission is asking for state subsidies for the funding of two projects from a wish list sent to the Florida Legislature.

Alahouzos is asking that the Legislature provide $473,619 for flooding abatement and intersection safety improvements at Martin Luther King and Mango Street in the state’s 2022-2023 budget. The intersection has been flood- and accident-prone and the request asks for the funding to provide improvements to the intersection to prevent vehicle and pedestrian accidents while providing access to businesses and homes when the area floods. The proposal calls for improvements to stormwater management infrastructure in the area.

Under the request, the city will provide $127,073, or 20 percent, of the cost of the project for a total cost of $600,692.

The second item on the wish list is for $724,753 in state funding for the Sponge Docks Flooding Abatement and Anclote River Extended Turning Basin Dredging project. Total cost of the project is $2.2 million, with the federal government providing $1.3 million and the city providing $191,028.

According to the city’s application to the state, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers has already completed design and permitting for the project.

Alahouzos is optimistic about getting the state support, in large part because Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls is backing the requests.

“I think we have an excellent chance of getting the funding,” Alahouzos said. “Chris knows these projects are very important to Tarpon Springs. I’m going to talk to the speaker again, and it helps to have a good friendship.”

Meanwhile, city officials are trying to figure out how to spend federal money that has already been appropriated by the federal government to the city.

City economic development manager Karen Lemmons is asking to hear from business owners on what the city should do with $12.8 million that will be received in two installments (2021 and 2022) from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The funds are to provide resources to address the economic fallout from the pandemic.

“We are seeking input from the general public, and especially from our business owners, your thoughts and ideas on projects that you think dollars could be best spent,” Lemmons said. “The city has compiled a draft list of projects, which includes $100,000 for citywide advertising/marketing, but there are many more ideas you may have.”

There was an agenda item at the Dec. 7 commission meeting to get input. Residents can also chime in by taking a survey at https://connecttarponsprings.com/arpa.