REDINGTON SHORES — A controversy over where a planned electronic message sign will be placed has been resolved.
It will be put in front of Town Hall, as first planned.
The sign’s location had been assumed to be Town Hall when the subject was first discussed at a commission meeting last December. At that session, former Mayor Bert Adams opposed putting the sign at Town Hall. He said most residents live north of Town Hall, which is located at the southern end of town. They would rarely see the sign, he said.
Adams also lives across from Town Hall and said his neighbors objected to having the sign, which is bright and animated, so close.
The commission approved purchasing the sign at their January meeting. But its location quickly erupted into controversy when Commissioner Pat Drumm proposed putting the sign at Constitution Park. Drumm said most residents in his district, which is north of Town Hall, go up to Park Boulevard when they leave town, and do not pass Town Hall.
Commissioner Jeff Neal and Tom Kapper joined Drumm in supporting placement of the LED sign at Constitution Park, which is in Drumm’s district.
Mayor MaryBeth Henderson said she couldn’t imagine any better place for the sign than Town Hall. Constitution Park is in a more residential area, with houses all around, she said. Also, the sign would be more vulnerable to hackers there, being away from “the major, serious security” of Town Hall.
The trio of Drumm, Kapper and Neal make up a commission majority, so the sign looked headed for the park location.
The sign’s placement was on the agenda at the commission’s Jan. 30 workshop. There, Commissioner Michael Robinson, who had not spoken before on the sign’s placement, made an impassioned case for putting it at Town Hall.
“Considering all the issues, Town Hall is the only logical solution,” Robinson told the commission.
The Town Hall location offers “connectivity, programming and operability,” Robinson said. The sign would be connected via a “WiFi bridge,” he said, “which can’t be intruded on or hacked.”
That is not available at Constitution Park, he said.
Robinson said the primary purpose of the sign is to communicate with residents during times of inclement weather and emergencies. A generator would be available at Town Hall to provide backup power if the electricity goes off, as it often does during those events.
The sign would also be used to post information on the town, “and people come to Town Hall for that,” said Henderson.
Drumm said a dedicated internet connection at Constitution Park would be secure.
Neal said 75 percent of the people who leave town go north, past Constitution Park.
Kapper said spending $35,000 for a sign is a waste of taxpayers’ money, regardless of where it’s put.
“What good is it going to do?” he said.
Lisa Foster, who is on the town’s Public Information Committee, reminded the commissioners that the sign is being proposed to improve communication with the public during storm events. That gives the town points in the government’s Community Rating System, which leads to discounts for residents on their flood insurance.
Kim Harr, chair of the committee, said residents come to Town Hall when storms are approaching, for sand bags and for other reasons. “That’s a time when we’re trying to get messages out,” she said. The intent was to have the sign at Town Hall “where the people are coming.”
Comments from residents were mixed. Most residents who spoke on the sign’s location said they lived near Constitution Park. They did not want the sign placed there.
“That area is residential,” said Merv Dickerson. “Don’t put it next to Constitution Park. We don’t want to see the sign there.”
Another resident said, “Where else would someone expect to see a town sign but at Town Hall.”
At the end of the discussion, Neal said he would go along with putting the sign at Town Hall, even though that was not his personal preference. A consensus was reached, with all five commissioners agreeing to put the sign at Town Hall.
Speeding on 180th and 181st
Residents are concerned about speeding and other traffic issues on 180th and 181st avenues west, Commissioner Drumm said. The speed limit on the roads, which are one-way, is 15 mph. But even that is too fast, said Drumm.
“The houses are all bunched up, and if you do 15 mph, it looks like you’re going 100,” Drumm said. Motorists “almost need to idle through, take their foot off the gas” when driving through, he said.
A first solution to control speeding would be to put in a couple of speed bumps, or speed tables, said Drumm. Drumm said he had contacted the residents living on the streets and “they are all in agreement” on the need for speed bumps or tables.
Drivers going the wrong way on the one-way streets is another issue.
Chris Warren, a resident, said, “I see a whole bunch of people who don’t live here going the wrong way, every single day.”
The offenders include Uber drivers. Warren wanted to look at possibly changing the roads’ direction, so that cars would enter at 180th rather than 181st. She said that seems to be a more natural flow.
Greater police enforcement and improved signage were also brought up. Painting arrows on the road was another idea that got support from the residents.
The actions to be taken to control speeding are up to the town, Drumm said.
“It’s our road,” he said.
Drumm said he will do more research on the solutions proposed, and will get prices on speed bumps and tables. The topic will be discussed further at February’s commission meetings.
Correcting sewer problems
Pinellas County Utilities official Ken Goergen gave a presentation on how problems with the ageing sewer system are being addressed and corrected through a partnership between the county and local municipalities.
Goergen explained how stormwater and rainwater can infiltrate the sewer system through broken and deteriorating pipes, adding to the sewer water, and increasing the flow, which also increases residents’ sewer bills.
Goergen said Redington Shores is doing the right things in relining the sewers and taking other actions, such as fixing and replacing broken and deteriorated pipes, to help stop the infiltrations.
Goergen also said the county has installed an advanced meter in the town that detects the flow through the system using laser beams.
Nonetheless, the meter was recently found to have given false readings, that caused the county to issue the town a $93,000 credit for overbilling.
The error was discovered by Jeff Neal, the town’s sewer commissioner, because he was suspicious of what he considered abnormally high sewer charges from the county. Neal worked with Goergen and other county officials to find and correct the mistake. Since then, the county has put in a new meter.