THE REDINGTONS — As many residents know, the Redingtons have much in common.
All three towns have Gulf-front property and all three are on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Together, their populations add up to just over 5,000 people.
So why, with their common name and their geographic location, are they separate? They cooperate on various projects and activities, and officials of the communities say they are good friends and would do anything for one another.
Yet consolidation isn’t something that is likely to happen — perhaps ever.
“In theory and in practice there could be benefits to having a single town hall, a single town manager, single public works operations and so on,” said Redington Beach Mayor Nick Simons. “The reality is that the people would have to support it in a referendum, and I don’t think that would fly.”
North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen agreed that consolidation of the three towns isn’t something that he would even consider. He said he would consider joint projects. But it stops there.
“There are too many differences in the ordinances, the financial structure, the tax rates; there are too many differences,” he said. “The best thing the little towns could do would be to work to combine as many services as possible.”
MaryBeth Henderson, mayor of Redington Shores, agreed. She said there are just too many differences between the towns.
“Our towns are totally different,” she said. “There are differences in the building codes, transient rentals and commercial tourism. It would entail way too much. It didn’t pass before; it didn’t happen.”
There was an attempt to merge the towns in 1962. Redington Beach made a move to annex the other two, but the attempt was defeated in a referendum.
Then in 1966 they tried again.
As reported in the now-defunct Evening Independent newspaper, Redington Beach Mayor George Farnham urged residents to support a consolidation of North Redington Beach and Redington Shores.
At the time, the towns shared a police department and fire department. However, Redington Shores pulled out of the police arrangement, which left the other two having to pay more money.
“It would be much better if we presented a united front,” Farnham was quoted as saying.
He recognized local residents’ affinity for their particular town but suggested it was fantasy.
“People who live in other towns don’t recognize the distinction between the Redingtons,” he said. “I think the distinction is largely in our minds.”
Not much has changed in attitude since then. The mayors are quick to point out there are real differences in their towns and those differences will likely prevent any talk of consolidation, let alone action on the issue.
“I listen to the residents. They like it here, they say they came here because it is Redington Shores and not the others,” said Henderson. “You would lose the uniqueness if you combined the towns.
“As you drive down Gulf Boulevard passing through the towns you can feel the difference; you can tell,” she said.
“Some rules that apply in one don’t apply to others,” Queen said. “People want their own identity. It doesn’t have anything to do with inhospitable feelings, it boils down to the town’s individual needs.”
Simons said his town, like the others, is different.
“People like Redington Beach because it is single-family residential as opposed to high-density condominiums,” he said. “There are characteristics and traits and flavors that would have to be considered in a referendum and my gut feeling is that it probably would not pass.”
The towns, despite their differences, cooperate on various projects. Recently, they broke ground on a new shopping plaza that straddles the border of Redington Shores and North Redington Beach. While it is a private venture, the two commissions had to agree to make it happen.
Soon to be started will be construction of a new emergency services building. It will be built in North Redington Beach adjacent to the new shopping plaza. The cost of the building will be shared by all three towns.
The building will house the public works departments of both Redington Shores and North Redington Beach. It will house a sheriff’s substation to service North Redington and Redington Beach. Redington Shores contracts its police service from the Indian Shores Police Department.
The new emergency services building will also house a fire station for all three Redingtons. The towns get their fire service from both Seminole and Madeira Beach.
“It is a perfect example of how the towns can work together,” said Queen.
Working together and friendliness is something that the mayors say will last forever and as times goes on their friendship should grow.
“We all get along,” said Simons. “If one of the others needs to borrow something, we would be happy to share, and I know they feel the same way. If Mayor Queen or Mayor Henderson asked me to do something, I would do it if it were in my power.”
Henderson was most vocal about the friendship among the towns.
“We all get along; we’re a combined force to reckon with,” she said. “We consider ourselves the Three Musketeers. As mayors we are together and we’re going to stay together.”
All that togetherness doesn’t add up to consolidation or a merger, however. Each mayor was adamant about that.
“If we were to become one town, that would be my ticket out of here,” said Henderson.
“To merge, the people would have to understand all the issues involved, and I think if they did understand, they would vote against it,” said Queen.
“I’m not necessarily against it right off, but it isn’t about me,” said Simons. “You would have to have a referendum and the people would soundly defeat it.”
All three mayors agreed if they didn’t share the name “Redington” they wouldn’t even be talking about it. And they said that no constituent has ever asked about consolidation.
However, Queen said people have asked him why North Redington Beach is not north of Redington Shores.
“I call us the Redingtons,” said Henderson. “We’re all neighbors and it is good to do things together. In the short term I don’t see our cooperation as a step toward amalgamation, but I don’t know about 50 years ahead.”
Queen wrapped up the discussion with a remark that perhaps can only be understood by a select group of people. When asked why the towns don’t merge, he said: “If you lived here you would know. If you don’t live here, then you ask the question.”