TARPON SPRINGS — The long-delayed dredging project on the Anclote River Turning Basin could begin within the next month, following approval of a bid by the Tarpon Springs City Commission.
The $862,300 contract was unanimously approved Sept. 28 by the commission to Diamond Services Corp. to allow the dredging process to begin. The project had been delayed for at least a year and is designed to restore the channel and turning basin to original depths following decades of sediment buildup.
The project is set for completion in a year.
The state of Florida will provide a grant of $724,753 to partially cover the cost of the contract, while the city’s Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenue or a potential refund from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will account for the remainder.
Commissioners expressed concerns about a provision in the contract that would provide $90,000 for protective species observation. Specifically, the funding is meant to provide an observer to protect manatees in the area.
“Being a manatee-watcher is very lucrative,” said Vice Mayor Jacob Karr.
But since the commission had an Oct. 23 deadline to approve the contract without the potential for increased pricing, others chose not to quibble.
“I see this as an absolute win,” said Commissioner Connor Donovan. “I want to get this done. I’m not of a mind to ruffle the Army Corps’ feathers.”
According to the city’s website, the Anclote River Channel was established by the Army Corps in 1899, and dredging occurred in 1948, 1973 and 1999. The city has been seeking another dredging to provide for safe passage of commercial vessels as well as keep the river safe for 50 boat-builders, marinas, boat repair and other services. The river has experienced significant shoaling, or sediment build-up since its last dredging.
In other action, the commission approved a conditional-use measure for a golf cart rental dealership on 229 E. Lemon St. Foreshore Golf Carts will rent street-legal golf carts along specified areas of the city.