Town officials officially break ground for the new Public Works building in Belleair. From left is Public Works Director Perry Lopez, Vice Mayor Stephen Fowler, Commissioner Tom Shelly, Mayor Gary Katica, Commissioners Michael Wilkinson and Kevin Piccarreto, and Town Manager Micah Maxwell.
BELLEAIR – The town of Belleair will soon have a new public works facility. The groundbreaking for the building, which will be on Ponce De Leon Boulevard just east of Town Hall, took place May 13, and it couldn’t have come soon enough for Public Works Director Perry Lopez.
“The existing building has structural and termite damage and is antiquated,” he said. “The structural damage is so bad some of the garage bays are actually closed and are being held up by scaffolding. Nobody is allowed in the area.”
Among those taking part at the groundbreaking was Mayor Gary Katica. He said the event shows that the town is moving forward.
“It is something that has been needed for a long time,” he said. “It is nice to be part of an administration that is doing things. I’ve seen us build the Dimmitt Center, undertake the infrastructure improvements and buy the golf course. Now the new public works building – for me that’s progress.”
Lopez said termites are so prevalent in the main building no one has been able to say exactly how much damage has actually been done.
“The termites are in the rafters and we just don’t know the full extent of the damage,” he said.
The new building will be constructed behind the existing facility. Once it is finished the old building and garage bays will be demolished. In their place will be a parking lot.
The new facility includes an office building, work areas and garage bays, particularly for the big garbage trucks. In all it will be 10,800 square feet. Total cost of the project, including the demolition of the existing structure, is $1.6 million. The entire job should be finished by the end of the year. Nelson Construction of Palm Harbor is doing the job and Klar and Klar of Clearwater are the architects.
Lopez says he’ll be among those who will benefit from the new facility.
“Right now my office is on the second floor of the water treatment plant,” he said. “It will be nice to move into the new building and be around the people I work with.”
For Lopez, who was hired less than two years ago from a position with the city of Clearwater, the advent of the new facility is just one more event in what has been a busy time. As soon as he was hired he was given the task of overlooking the complete makeover of the town’s infrastructure, including underground water and wastewater upgrades and the rebuilding of the streets, including paving and curbs and sidewalks. It was so needed that the town had to borrow the $10 million required for the job. That work is ongoing.
Katica noted the work done by Lopez while talking about the new public works facility.
“That is why we hired him. We needed somebody to get these projects done and he is the guy,” he said. “This isn’t a one man job here, we also have commissioners that are terrific and they have been a big help in getting things moving.”
Lopez admittedly likes the compliments but is quick to point out that he’s more excited about something else.
“I’m happy because of the staff, all the guys who are outside all day in the heat working hard on the infrastructure,” he said. “I’m happy they will finally have a comfortable place to call home, that’s what I’m most excited about.”