BELLEAIR - It isn’t every day that a sports team from Belleair wins a countywide championship. The town isn’t that big. When you are drawing from a population of roughly 4,000 residents, it is tough competing with Clearwater or St. Petersburg or Largo or Pinellas Park.
Yet, it just happened.
The Girls U12 Celtic Soccer Team won the Gulf Coast Youth Soccer Association championship after going through an undefeated season.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Largo Fire Chief Shelby Willis had positive news for Belleair Bluffs city officials on the progress of construction on the new station going up behind city hall.
Speaking at the March 13 City Commission workshop meeting, Willis said the construction is three weeks ahead of schedule so far.
Willis and City Clerk Debra Sullivan reported on a fire station construction update meeting held March 10, attended by officials from the county, Largo, Belleair and Belleair Bluffs, the communities served by the station. Sullivan said the station is “moving along quickly, progressing very well.”
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Nearly 1,900 people voted in the March 14 Indian Rocks Beach municipal election and they chose incumbent Phil Hanna and civic leader Phil Wrobel to represent them on the City Commission.
Wrobel topped the polls with 577 votes or 31 percent of the total. Next was incumbent Phil Hanna with 551 votes. Following them was another first-time candidate, Hope Wyant, with 383 votes, and incumbent Terry Hamilton-Wollin, the current vice mayor, with 367 votes.
For his part, Hanna said his re-election is a sign to stay the course in the city.
BELLEAIR - Town of Belleair Commissioners are worried that a proposed House bill in Tallahassee could dramatically change the look and feel of Belleair and they intend to oppose the bill and let state lawmakers know how they feel.
The matter surfaced at the Town Commission meeting on March 7. Commissioner Karla Rettstatt brought it up and expressed fear that the bill, which would allow wireless communication equipment to be placed on the community’s rights of way, would override any local jurisdiction to prevent it.
“I don’t want some refrigerator sized box put in my front yard, and I can’t do anything about it,” she said.
BELLEAIR BEACH - The Belleair Beach City Council took critical votes at the March 6 meeting to get a long-stalled utility undergrounding project moving ahead.
The council passed an ordinance that allows the creation of special assessment districts to fund the cost of the undergrounding effort or any other future capital improvement project.
Also, a resolution was approved providing for the appointment of an ad hoc committee “to examine the ways and means by which the city could implement undergrounding utilities for residential properties located on 22nd Street, Donato Drive, Louisa Drive and Aleta Drive.”
BELLEAIR BEACH - The Belleair Beach City Council has decided to take the first steps toward starting a utility undergrounding project, giving neighborhood residents hope that their years-long wait may finally be ending.
Residents living on Louisa, Donato and Aleta Drive and 22nd Street have had a longtime goal. Get the utility wires in their neighborhood put underground. They have even offered to pay for the effort themselves.
In a presentation to council last September, a spokesperson for the residents discussed their long quest to make utility undergrounding of their area a reality. She spoke of the numerous studies and surveys and proposals done over the years with what she said was the same result: “No options, no decisions, no progress.” At that session, Council Member Pamela Gunn said the city “cannot make an informed decision until we know the cost.”
BELLEAIR - Town of Belleair officials continue to hone in on their long-term capital improvements projects. Town Manager Micah Maxwell discussed two approaches to the long-term plan Feb. 23 at a joint meeting of the Infrastructure and Finance Boards.
Over the past year staff has been assessing the town’s infrastructure further and analyzing the future costs impacts, resulting in a 15-year capital projection. The system will be updated annually with major changes reported to both advisory boards.
Capital programs include park improvements, small roadway projects, street light replacement and parks projects.
BELLEAIR SHORE - The town of Belleair Shore commission has given its approval to a fence that would help protect Philadelphia Phillies MVP Ryan Howard and his wife Krystle from repeated intrusions into their beachfront property.
Security had been an ongoing issue since the Howards moved into their standout mega-mansion home two years ago. Krystle Howard told the commission in January of multiple break-ins and intrusions on their property, including people coming from the beach and “stationing out.”
“They come up and stop and stare and try to interact with us,” she said.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Shepherd’s Village has been providing housing, life skills, education and other services for single mother families since Dr. Phyllis Alderman founded the faith-based ministry in Clearwater in 1992.
Today, the non-denominational nonprofit is located in a 12-unit apartment complex in Belleair Bluffs, where more than 280 families and 650 children have sought safe shelter and domestic stability since the organization relocated there in 2002.
And while a recent remodeling project, assisted by former Buccaneer Shelton Quarrels, helped improve the décor in the ageing apartments, the ministry has outgrown the facility, leading Alderman and her staff to actively search for a new location where they can expand their outreach.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - More landscaping requirements. Mixed-use developments. Increased setbacks. Incentives. These are just a few of the thoughts on city commissioners’ minds as they mull over the future of Gulf Boulevard.
Commissioners discussed a variety of uses and requirements for development along the corridor during a workshop at their Feb. 14 meeting, hearing suggestions from residents and other interested parties.
City Manager Greg Mims said the meeting is one of several pertaining to land-use code regulations that staff will have involving city commissioners, the Planning and Zoning Board and the public before any decisions are made.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - The intersection of Walsingham Road and Gulf Boulevard in Indian Rocks Beach has been named “Project of the Year” by the Florida West Coast branch of the American Public Works Association.
Gregg Mims, city manager for Indian Rocks Beach, in a memo to city commissioners, quoted the award letter as noting, “this is a special honor that is reserved for the elite of public works professionals, projects and vendors in the Tampa Bay region.”
“These awards,” the Florida chapter of APWA said on its website, “recognize the managing agency, the consultant/architect/engineer, and the contractor who, working together, complete public works projects.”
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - City commissioners and Indian Rocks Beach residents continue to criticize the Pinellas Suncoast Fire & Rescue District and believe it should be subject to an oversight review process.
Some commissioners expressed disappointment Feb. 14 that a change in the state law in 2014 brought to their attention by city attorneys would nullify any request for county officials to conduct a review process similar to one done in 2008.
They informally asked City Attorney Randy Mora to see if they can get help from local legislators in starting an oversight review process since such authority is now confined to the Legislature.
BELLEAIR - Town of Belleair officials will discuss priorities for the improvements to infrastructure and ways to finance them at a joint board meeting Thursday, Feb. 23, 5 p.m.
At the Town Commission meeting Feb. 7, Commissioner Tom Kurey encouraged residents to attend the joint meeting of the Infrastructure and Finance boards. Kurey is liaison to the Infrastructure Board.
“I think it’s a great meeting for residents, commissioners. Hopefully, we will come to some decisions on priorities or reiterate priorities,” Kurey said. “We will be talking about the funding and financing.”
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - The owner of the bait house on the Belleair Causeway bridge would like to turn a little used patio deck area into “a neighborhood place for people to come, watch the sunset and hang out for a while.”
Owner Justin Pagliuco presented his plans for a “neighborhood lounge” at the Feb. 13 City Commission workshop meeting. He said the back patio on the bait house has the best views of the Intracoastal Waterway in the area.
Pagliuco also wants to serve beer and wine on the patio, which he is currently not allowed to do. “I want to create a place where people can hang out on the water, grab a glass of wine or beer, before they head out to a restaurant around here,” he said.
BELLEAIR BEACH - The city of Belleair Beach’s only public Gulf-front park is reopening this weekend, Community Services Director Lynn Rives said at the Feb. 6 City Council meeting.
The park had been shut down to add what the city hopes will be the final number of public parking spaces needed to qualify for future beach nourishments.
The parking issue has been discussed for some time, and city officials will welcome its resolution. Council member Mitch Krach asked City Manager Nancy Gonzalez whether the city had been officially notified that the parking space requirement for beach sand replacement had been met.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - City Commission candidates on Jan. 31 emphasized the need to keep the city’s beaches kept cleaner with less litter and cigarette butts.
The four candidates for two seat on the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission in the March 14 election were asked by an attendee at a forum Jan. 31 at the Beach Art Center what is the one thing they would do to improve the city.
Phil Wrobel took issue with visitors who leave their trash on the beaches. He emphasized encouraging visitors to respect the beaches and the city.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - The city of Indian Rocks Beach prides itself in being a comfortable place where people can live and not be bothered by a fast pace - a place where the old Florida cottages still dominate the landscape, particularly along the beach and Gulf Boulevard.
To that end, the city has rules and regulations aimed at keeping things the way they are. Yet some of the rules and regulations are unclear and often misunderstood.
On one hand there are developers and builders who want to get the most out of their property, and on the other hand are residents who push back against any development they see as threatening their small town way of life.