TREASURE ISLAND — City officials unanimously voted to terminate a joint project with St. Petersburg, which was designed to make roadway improvements to the eastern portion of the T.I. Causeway.

The two cities entered into an interlocal agreement for the design and construction of the East Treasure Island Causeway project April 17 after securing a $1.2 million grant.

During a Jan. 15 City Commission meeting, City Manager Garry Brumback told officials “this was a difficult process; we entered into an interlocal agreement with St. Petersburg a year ago, but we have been discussing it over two years.”

He explained both sides discussed adding a bike trail along the east Causeway, while at the same time having resources to make improvements to both the roadway and drainage.

“However, we have finally reached the point where neither city was comfortable. Although St. Petersburg wanted to continue, we felt we were unable, within the grant awarded, to accomplish the goals of the project and therefore we have terminated that project,” he explained.

“Despite the best efforts of both teams and after several submittals and iterations of the design, and (with) estimated construction costs, it is apparent that the design and the estimated construction costs does not meet the goals and project expectations for the amount of funds available,” Brumback told commissioners.

Commissioner Tyler Payne said “the whole point of this project was to improve the drainage on that stretch of road; when you drive through there, when it’s high tide and raining, you have to drive in the left-hand lane to avoid huge amounts of water. It’s my understanding that the goal was not going to be accomplished with the plans as they stood with St. Petersburg.”

He agreed it’s the right decision, and city officials will do the best they can to accomplish that goal on our own. Also, the actual roadway itself needs some attention, Payne said.

City officials are attempting to find resources to be able to continue the work on both the roadway and the drainage.

They have good support from the state Legislature, Brumback explained.

Former state Rep. and now County Commissioner Kathleen Peters is also engaged in attempting to get this money converted so city officials can just do a roadway and drainage improvement project, he said.

Commissioner Heidi Horvath said city officials hope to recapture some of the grant money that was allocated for that joint project and do their own project.

She praised the city manager’s handling of the situation.

Horvath complimented the city manager on what she said was a brave decision to reverse the course of the project.

“It’s not easy to do. It’s much easier to go along with what everyone wants in the upper echelons of government. That being the county, the city of St. Petersburg and state. I think it took a lot of guts. In my mind it elevated the city manager as a professional, working independently for the interests of the city of Treasure Island to a very high standard,” Horvath said.

Brumback said he had a lot of help.

“Very good job,” Mayor Larry Lunn said

City OKs agreement with tennis director

In other news, city commissioners voted unanimously to pay Phil Girardi, director of Tennis for Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis facility, an annual salary of $34,220, plus commissions of up to $70,000 annually.

Under terms of the agreement, the tennis director receives 75 percent of revenue from various tennis activities, such as clinics, lessons, junior camps, tournaments, mixers and league, merchandise sold, ball machine rentals and racquet sales or services at Treasure Bay.

Additionally, he will receive 85 percent of revenues paid for tennis related merchandise sold, ball machine rentals and racquet stringing services.

In 1998, Girardi was named head tennis professional at Treasure Bay. On April 1, 2002, Girardi became the director of tennis and facility director. Since 2002, terms of his compensation agreement has been extended annually by mutual consent, Cathy Hayduke, recreation director said.

According to Hayduke, the new agreement is a hybrid of both a contractual employee and independent contractor.

She explained if the tennis director is a contractual employee, the relationship between the city and the director of tennis will be that of employee and employer. The city would be required to pay Girardi an annual salary with benefits through payroll.

With that scenario, she noted, “the director of tennis will not be entitled to or receive commissions from any tennis activities, merchandise sales, ball machine rentals and racquet stringing sales and services.”

If the director of tennis is an independent contractor, the agreement does not create an employee/employer relationship.

Under terms of the new agreement, the city will continue to pay Girardi an annual fee for his onsite supervision. However, the director of tennis will be responsible for paying his own benefits and insurances including workers’ compensation, Hayduke explained.

The director of tennis will continue to receive 75 percent for all tennis program activity and 85 percent for all tennis merchandise sold, ball machine rentals and racquet sales and services, she added.

Hayduke told commissioners “the position is essential to the growth and marketing of the tennis facility.”

During a Dec. 18 work session, Girardi told city commissioners, “I really enjoy my relationship here. I think we’ve done great things over there. Personally, this is not what I wanted, but I think this kind of agreement kind of keeps things the way it’s going now. I see good things happening in the future. This is something I can live with for right now. I don’t want to put the city in any risk for the IRS or anybody coming to them with any problems.”

Mayor Larry Lunn told Girardi “we definitely appreciate your service over the years and I think you’ve added a great deal to our program.”

Commissioner Saleene Partridge, who has taken tennis lessons at Treasure Bay, said she “found the program to be incredibly valuable and meeting other members of the community they’ve all shared the same sentiment. It’s my goal to continue to promote Treasure Bay, the golf and the tennis program.”