REDINGTON SHORES – The Redington Shores Commission approved up to $50,000 in preliminary bids that will let work begin on the town’s newest greenspace: two small parks being developed in front of the La Vistana condominiums on Gulf Boulevard. The land, about 9,500 square feet, was donated by the developer of La Vistana to be used as park space.

Commissioner Jeff Neal said the project had been delayed to get more bids and, hopefully, better prices. “We got good prices on the site work, pavers and landscaping that will get the project started,” Neal said. The landscaping vendor selected included Sylvester palms, live oaks, and Drake elms in his bid.

Bids for additional work will be coming, but Neal said the commissioners’ approval of the first round of bids “will let us get started with the park” during the week of April 16.

New officer hire increases police costs

A proposed budget from the Indian Shores Police Department for the coming year that increases the town’s police services costs by nearly 6 percent was approved by the commission. Police Chief Terry Hughes said the cost hike, the largest in recent years by far, was due to the addition of a new police officer. Three officers will now be present on each shift, he said.

The added police presence seems to be working, said Hughes. Since the change was made, car burglaries, the most frequently committed crime along the beaches, are down to zero, Hughes said.

The Indian Shores Police Department provides policing services to Redington Shores, which pays 35 percent of the department’s total cost. The proposed total budget for the Indian Shores Police Department for the year starting October 1, 2018, is $1,289,393, an increase of nearly $75,000 over the prior year. Redington Shores’ share of the cost is $451,287, up from $425,090 the prior year.

“We are keeping the costs down,” Hughes said. The police contract requires the Indian Shores department not to exceed the cost of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Hughes said the amount Redington Shores will pay is about $57,000 less than what the Sheriff’s Office is charging now for similar policing services, and their costs are expected to go up next year.