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Mehlenbacher Road almost done
Belleair Bluffs commissioners continue to hear complaints about project
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Photo courtesy of WANDA RUSINOWSKI
A homeowner who lives on Mehlenbacher Road says that the drainage structure on the Belleair Bluffs side is too high, compared to the one on the Belleair side.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS – The months-long effort to reconstruct Mehlenbacher Road, which is the boundary line between Belleair and Belleair Bluffs, appears to be winding down.

Belleair Bluffs Public Works Director Robert David said at the Jan. 27 City Commission meeting that the pouring of some sidewalks and sodding were all that remains before the project is completed.

A walkthrough of the roadway with the engineer will be done within a week, David said, and if that goes well, the eight-month job will be declared done.

Problems with the project have been many, causing Commissioner Jack Nazario to comment at the last commission workshop, “We don’t want to go through this again.”

Road closures and detours caused by the construction have impacted many, but those living along the roadway have been especially impacted. Even the project’s completion will apparently not end the problems for at least one property owner.

Wanda Rusinowski has come before the commission numerous times during the construction phase, complaining about problems and demanding fixes on the Mehlenbacher property she owns and where her daughter, Darlene Kavanagh, lives.

Those issues have not been solved even though work on her property is finished, she told the commission.

“We have problems accessing the driveway or the backyard, we can’t park parallel to the driveway, we hit the curb when pulling out of the driveway, it is hard to turn into or back out into Mehlenbacher,” said Rusinowski in reciting the list of problems she said have resulted from the construction. The new driveway is already cracking, she added.

“The curbing sticks up 8 inches from the road surface, creating a speed bump effect,” said resident Shawn Wright.

Rusinowski said she is concerned the problems brought about by the road improvements will cause her property’s value to drop.

Mayor Chris Arbutine said he was sympathetic to the complaints.

“We had hoped to have some good news. We promised to be on top of this and they would be happy. Apparently they are not happy,” he said.

David said using a different drainage outlet could have solved most of the problems. But “that fix would have been costly.”

“We chose not to spend $8,000 just to please one resident,” he said.

Arbutine promised to go to the property, meet with Rusinowski and her daughter and the project engineer “and find out what we can do.”

Nazario said the city needs to come up with some answers to satisfy the unhappy residents.

“We promised a lot of things and I’m not sure we delivered,” he said.

“I agree,” the mayor replied.

David said following the meeting that he couldn’t say if the complaints are valid “until I see (the property).” He did say many of the problems Rusinowski is reporting appear to be related to the drainage outlet. Other residents also have a similar drainage device on their property, he said, but so far have not complained.

Garage sale and Antique Alley show scheduled

The semi-annual citywide garage sale will be held Saturday, March 8, with the Antique Alley show slated for the next day, Sunday, March 9. The events will be repeated this fall on the weekend of Nov. 8 and 9.
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