Construction of the new Belleair Bluffs fire station on Bay Way Avenue is ahead of schedule, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 1. As the sign says, the facility is paid for by “Penny for Pinellas” funds.
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.”
Commissioner Taylour Shimkus said she drives by the station often.
“It’s neat to see how much is being done,” she said. Shimkus said her kids are even excited by the pace of construction, which she said should continue, “as long as the good weather holds up.”
Sullivan said colors had been picked for the station’s exterior. A portion of the building that juts out on the front side will be “cardinal red” with the rest a dark gray, described by consultant Robert David as “gun metal gray.” Color palettes are on display at the construction site.
The fire station has made significant progress toward completion in the three months since groundbreaking on Dec. 12. The relative ease of the construction job so far is a sharp contrast to the station’s somewhat stormy beginnings. It was nearly six years in the planning, site selection and design, a time marked by protests from residents living nearby who were particularly concerned about noise from the fire trucks and the station’s effect on their property values.
Now, all is settled and the construction is going along smoothly, even ahead of schedule.
This facility replaces the one on Indian Rocks Road that was originally a 1960s gas station and is now outdated and deteriorating. Besides meeting regulatory agency requirements, the new station can withstand storms and hurricanes and will be used as an Emergency Operations Center when necessary. A wall is being built around the property to help reduce noise.
Completion is expected in October this year.
No Sunday alcohol before 11 a.m.
Despite the recent passage of a county law allowing the sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages beginning at 8 a.m. on Sundays, Belleair Bluffs is “holding firm to our code,” which says no alcohol before 11 a.m., Commissioner Suzy Sofer said.
Belleair Bluffs was one of several county municipalities that did not favor the change to an earlier time on Sundays when it was first proposed a few months ago, Sofer pointed out.
As Vice Mayor, Sofer chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Chris Arbutine. Commissioner Joseph Barkley was also absent.