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Mehlenbacher project underway
The joint Bluffs-Belleair construction job causes road closures
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BELLEAIR BLUFFS – A massive road and sewer project involving Mehlenbacher Road, which runs along the boundary of Belleair Bluffs and Belleair, has started. The road has been closed intermittently for the past two weeks, and more closures are due until the job is completed sometime in August.

Bluffs Public Works Director Robert David gave an update on the project and related work on adjacent roadways at the June 10 city commission meeting. This is a Belleair project, which is now 80 percent complete, David said, based upon the work that has been done in the southwest part of Belleair.

The final 20 percent of the work is focused on Mehlenbacher Road, which is split down the middle between Belleair and Belleair Bluffs. The road has been closed only for a day or two at a time so far, David said. Mehlrose, Eagle’s Nest and Opal Roads, all in Belleair, have been closed for resurfacing, milling and curbing.

Soon, the paving, milling and curbing of Mehlenbacher will begin and that will shut down the roadway for an extended period, likely until mid-August, David said. Local traffic will be allowed during this time.

Since the road is split between the two communities, the project’s cost is being shared. And that caused some problems in the beginning. When the project was first announced in the spring of 2011, cost estimates of the job obtained by Belleair and Belleair Bluffs differed significantly. David had refused to commit Belleair Bluffs to the project at that time, saying, “We can do it for $100,000 less.”

The cost differences were later resolved, and the project is now being handled by one contractor, Ajax Paving of Nokomis, Florida.

Two Bluffs residents who live or own property on Mehlenbacher complained they were not notified the project was starting.

“Our street is closed and we were not informed by the city this was coming,” said resident Darlene Kavanagh. 

Wanda Rusinowski said she also had received no prior notification of the road closure.

Belleair was supposed to notify all residents living on Mehlenbacher of the job’s progress, Mayor Chris Arbutine said. But Kavanagh said in a comment following the meeting she had contacted Belleair Town Hall and was told the notification of Bluffs’ residents was that city’s responsibility.

Bridge flagpole being replaced

The flagpole that stands on the Bluffs side of the Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge has stood flagless for the past few days. David said the flagpole apparatus had broken.

“The winch that held the cable broke its gears and the flag came tumbling down,” he said.

The pole is being repaired and the flag should begin flying again “by the end of the week,” David said.

50th Anniversary celebration update

Activities surrounding the 50th anniversary of the city’s founding were updated by event coordinator Commissioner Taylour Shimkus.

Flyiers announcing the July 4th barbeque and parade are available at City Hall and on the city’s website (, Shimkus said. 

Registration for participants in the parade is continuing. Shimkus said a good number of residents and businesses are signing up, but more are needed. She urged everyone to “tell your neighbors and the business owners to join in so we’ll have a big parade.” Parade registration deadline is June 21.

The “Dunk the Mayor” event, which has become a tradition at the July 4th barbeque, is being replaced with a “Dunk the Mayor and Commissioners,” Shimkus announced. “We wanted to change it up a little and give the mayor a break,” she said.

Commissioner Suzy Sofer said she had once earned $500 by agreeing to be dunked. Of the commissioners, only Shimkus definitely agreed at the meeting to be a dunking victim. The mayor said he would welcome the competition.

A planned spaghetti dinner is being replaced with a baseball-themed event, Shimkus said. A tie-in with a Rays game was rejected as “too expensive for what you get, about $30 for a ticket and a cap.” Instead, the commission agreed to let Shimkus explore a partnership with the Clearwater Thrashers baseball team. 

Their events are “very cheap, about $10 to $20 for all you can eat, all you can drink.” For that price, “we get our own personal baseball game, and can do whatever we like,” she said.
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