BELLEAIR BLUFFS – The estimated completion date for roadwork on Mehlenbacher Road has been pushed out once again. The project’s end has been a moving target, going from a prediction of mid-August last summer, to mid-December in the fall and year-end in November. Now, a seven-week delay “to make sure the job is done right” means the job will not be done this year after all.
No completion date was given at the Dec. 9 Bluffs commission workshop. The good news is that the project, which includes curbing, milling and repaving of the roadway, is getting underway again. And most importantly, the curbing issues that have caused the delays have apparently been solved, and drainage problems are being addressed.
In an effort to expedite the job, Belleair Bluffs decided last month to go with Miami curbing used by Belleair, rather than the F-type curbs the city prefers. The decision was expected to simplify matters as the road had been engineered for Miami curbs.
“We don’t want to hold up the project,” Bluffs Mayor Chris Arbutine had told Belleair Town Manager Micah Maxwell.
However, the project’s contractor said he would not mobilize his equipment to continue the work until he obtained the proper slopes and grades for the entire roadway. That is due this week, Public Works Director Robert David said at the Dec. 9 commission meeting.
Work on the job, which had been delayed for seven weeks, is expected to begin again on Monday, Dec. 16, he said.
The contractor did not want to restart the project and then possibly have to leave, David said in explaining the delay.
“They’re taking some extra time, but I think the product will be better,” he said.
“Better” means also resolving some of the drainage issues that Belleair Bluffs residents in particular have faced. David said the new curbs will be below the elevation of the sidewalk so water will flow from the sidewalk to the street.
Arbutine agreed the delay was worthwhile if the job gets done correctly. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right,” he said.
David stressed the city has a good working relationship with Belleair on the project. “They too don’t want to spend the money and not have a good product,” he said.
Commissioner Joseph Barkley said he ran into Belleair Mayor Gary Katica at a recent civic event. “The first thing he asked about was the status of Mehlenbacher Road,” Barkley said.
The issue is topmost for many residents who live on Mehlenbacher. “Make sure the drainage issue is solved,” said Wanda Rusinowski, a Mehlenbacher Road property owner who has had numerous complaints since the road project began months ago.
50th Anniversary celebration wraps up
The city’s year-long celebration of its 50th birthday will be ending “with a bang,” City Clerk Debra Sullivan announced.
A 24-page insert section in this week’s Belleair Bee is devoted to stories from a newly released book on the city’s history, she said.
On Friday, Dec. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. a book signing of the new book by the author will be held at the city’s holiday event at city hall. The annual Christmas tree lighting will also take place, along with the traditional hayride and musical entertainment.
“We are super excited about the book,” Sullivan said. “It will leave a legacy of Belleair Bluffs.”
Proceeds from book sales will be used to purchase new playground equipment for the park, she said. The book is also available at city hall and can be purchased during normal business hours.