BELLEAIR BLUFFS – Beginning in September, the PSTA trolley line through Belleair Bluffs, which currently runs a loop route between the city and Clearwater Beach, will officially become a part of the popular beach trolley route. The announcement was made by Mayor Chris Arbutine, who is also a member of the PSTA board, at Monday’s City Commission meeting.
The trolley, which began service in Belleair Bluffs last August, had undergone a couple of route changes in an effort to increase ridership. The latest routing, which took the trolley through residential neighborhoods north of City Hall to a point convenient to Antique Alley, has drawn the ire of residents who complained of the noise and pollution generated by the vehicles. Ridership has remained anemic throughout the trolley’s tenure in Belleair Bluffs.
This fall, Trolley Route No. 80 will cease to exist and Belleair Bluffs will become a stop on the PSTA beach trolley route which runs from Clearwater Beach to Pass-A-Grille. According to Arbutine, the PSTA will route every other beach trolley, or about one an hour, through Belleair Bluffs. The addition of Belleair Bluffs to the beach route, which has proven popular with tourists as well as residents of the beach communities, should significantly increase the number of riders coming into Belleair Bluffs and potentially entice visitors to disembark and sample the local shops and restaurants, Arbutine said.
The new route, which will stay clear of neighborhoods while circling past City Hall and behind the shops anchored by Bonefish Grill, should please residents, Arbutine said.
Beautification Phase III approved
The commission authorized the purchase of eight new palm trees to be placed along a portion of the east side of Indian Rocks Road, from the produce business to the Whitehall Apartments. The trees will be purchased from Belleair Palms, who submitted the low bid of $3,200 for the project.
Part-time firefighter pay hiked
The commission approved on second and final reading an ordinance which authorizes raising the pay of the city’s part-time firefighters from $8 to $12 an hour. Commissioner Robert Russo said that the move should enable the city to attract more part-timers and reduce firefighter overtime, which he said had cost the city in excess of $17,000 last year. Fire Commissioner Hunt Brand, who had championed the move at last month’s meeting, was absent from Monday’s session.
Fire expenses approved
Purchases of fire department equipment totaling $38,000 were approved. The largest expense was $23,500 for new self-contained breathing apparatus for the firefighters. According to deputy Chief Tom Tarulli, the new air packs will provide a wide range of safety benefits for the firefighters. Other expenses included $4,000 for painting the fire building exterior, another $4,000 for tile floors in the living areas, $2,100 for an Automatic External Defibrillator (to be located in City Hall), $2,300 for electrical repairs and upgrades, and other items totaling $2,000.
New dayshift deputy joins city
A new face will be seen patrolling the city in coming weeks. Sherri Roberts is the new daytime deputy assigned by the Sheriff’s Office to the Bluffs beat. She replaces Deputy Rene Verschneider, who has been reassigned to Seminole.