LARGO - After nearly a decade of work to develop a long-vacant property, city officials hope the end of an apartment complex’s construction leads to a new beginning for downtown Largo.
On Oct. 6, representatives from the city and project gathered to cut the ribbon on the newly opened 158 Ridge Apartment Homes, a contemporary community of 29 urban loft-style units in the West Bay Drive Community Redevelopment District.
LARGO - As the first sweep of the city has finished and piles of debris slowly decrease, the cost of picking them up continues to increase.
As of Oct. 13, Public Works officials said crews have been working 10 hours a day, six days a week and have collected more than 13 million pounds of debris since Hurricane Irma lashed Florida over a month ago. On average, workers collect 9 million pounds in an entire year across the city.
LARGO - Developer Gary Tave said he is committed to completing his West Bay Lofts project, a mixed-use development on the 500 and 600 blocks of West Bay Drive. Finding a partner with the same conviction - and deep pockets - to join him has not been easy, though.
Despite the challenge, Tave told Largo leaders Oct. 10 during a City Commission work session that at least one phase of the project, a three-story building on the 600 block of West Bay Drive, is funded and construction should commence in the first quarter of 2018.
LARGO - Officials say the city’s first all-electric vehicle will add a spark to sustainability efforts that include the addition of a new environmental action plan.
Sustainability Coordinator Laura Thomas said the new vehicle, a Nissan Leaf, will be used by staff to educate and engage residents on the importance of sustainability issues at schools and specials events.
“It shows a really good example and it shows how Largo is serving as a leader in the community for some of these environmental and financial initiatives,” she said of the Leaf, which cost about $23,000, plus $2,000 for its decorative wrap.
It’s safe to say that at one point, most of us have felt unprepared. Perhaps we forgot to clean the leaves in the gutter or left the car windows open before a storm. Unplanned events can be trying, yet on the other side of the coin, preparing for the future can result in successful outcomes.
Just like residents, local governments need to prepare for events and make long-term plans to ensure that things run smoothly for our residents. On Nov. 7, voters will have the chance to renew a local-option sales tax to provide much-needed funding to support how Largo prepares for our future with the Penny for Pinellas.
CLEARWATER - In an event designed to salute local business leaders and their efforts to make the community a better place, it was a man who is in the business of treating patients and training doctors that received one of the top honors.
Dr. Anthony Ottaviani, chief academic officer and regional dean at the Nova Southeastern University/College of Osteopathic Medicine at Largo Medical Center, was given the Citizen of the Year Award on Sept. 29 during the 65th annual Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce Meeting and Awards Breakfast in Clearwater.
LARGO - City leaders discussed a topic Oct. 3 that continues to be on the minds - and streets - of many Largo residents: debris.
During a meeting at City Hall, commissioners and Department of Public Works staff covered several topics concerning the 35,000 to 40,000 cubic yards of debris left by Hurricane Irma in Largo. Here are some of the highlights of that discussion.
LARGO - The city took another step toward collecting as much as $1.5 million from a housing developer when the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled Sept. 27 that the nonprofit was bound by an agreement made by the previous owners.
Since 2010, the city has battled AHF-Bay Fund in a breach of contract case involving the Brittany Bay Apartments complex off Seminole Boulevard.
LARGO - Patrick Bradley doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention.
The 61-year-old director of the birds of prey program at McGough Nature Park prefers the spotlight stays on the many wounded raptors he tends to and the Avian Veterans Alliance, a nonprofit he co-founded to help veterans with PTSD heal.
So when an author asked him to become part of her new book - “Vets and Pets: Wounded Warriors and the Animals That Help Them Heal” - he wasn’t exactly enamored with the idea.
LARGO - After four city employees were either fired or resigned for not showing up to work during Hurricane Irma, City Manager Henry Schubert says he stands by the longstanding city policy that led to the decision and doesn’t anticipate it will change anytime soon.
The four employees - two solid waste drivers, a mechanic and an office specialist - all signed forms in May acknowledging they would be considered emergency responders and that not showing up to work would make them “subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.”
LARGO - First responders and city staff are accustomed to going out of their way to help residents in need. During Hurricane Irma, for example, employees stepped away from their traditional day-to-day roles to meet the needs of the public, and, in some cases, left their families and homes with the goal of making Largo prepared and safe.
Local businesses worked to repay that favor before, during and after the storm, and city officials are grateful.
Whether it was providing shelter, fuel, water or food, Largo Fire Rescue Chief Shelby Willis said businesses - both big and small - answered the call.
LARGO - More than a week after Hurricane Irma rolled through Florida, Largo city officials have worked to assess the structural and environmental damage the storm left in its wake.
An initial windshield survey performed the day after the storm showed that 36 residential units had been classified as destroyed. That number increased to 57, however, after a more detailed assessment was carried out later in the week by Building and Code Enforcement divisions.
According to Community Development Director Carol Stricklin, “destroyed" structures are considered permanently uninhabitable and not economically feasible to rebuild.
LARGO - If any city of Largo commissioners had doubts about whether a 13 percent property tax increase was necessary, Hurricane Irma - and the $1 million it’s estimated it will cost the city - blew them away.
The change needed a supermajority to pass and that’s exactly what it got Sept. 19 when commissioners voted 5-2, with Mayor Woody Brown and Curtis Holmes voting against, to increase the tax rate from 5.3705 mills to 5.7413, or $5.74 for each $1,000 in taxable value.
LARGO - A new electrical supply store, named Comprehensive Supply Company, is set to open its doors on Oct. 1 in Largo.
CSC is a distributor of high-quality and inexpensive electrical equipment with a focus on a mom-and-pop style of service. Their product offerings are diverse and include circuit breakers, panel boards, load centers, disconnects, bus plugs and fuses to name a few. What makes this company unique is its ability to offer prices typically 15 to 35 percent below retail and its family style of service.
LARGO - As Hurricane Irma slowly churns through the Atlantic, Largo officials are quickly working to prepare for worst-case scenarios.
Largo Fire Rescue Chief Shelby Willis, who is also the emergency manager for the city, and Brian Usher, director of department of public works, discussed some of those measures Sept. 5 during a City Commission meeting at City Hall.