REDINGTON BEACH — Residents here object to a drainage plan that would result in large swaths of their front yards being dug up to reduce pollution runoff into Boca Ciega Bay following heavy rain.
The installation of stormwater infiltration trenches was recommended by engineering firm LTA LLC as part of a package of stormwater control measures presented to the commission April 7. The trenches would be installed along parts of Redington Drive between 161st and 163rd avenues and along a portion of Third Avenue.
Residents told commissioners April 21 that while they recognized the need to reduce flooding, they felt the trenches were unnecessary.
The trenches would be up to 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Perforated pipe would be placed in the trenches and then covered with layers of rock and soil. The trenches would retain stormwater and filter out pollutants before the water drained into Boca Ciega Bay.
Sam Church, who lives on Redington Drive, said he didn’t feel the stormwater filtration system was necessary because his street did not have a problem with standing water. “It’s just a problem with drainage,” he said, adding it would be a more viable project for other areas of the town.
Resident Ken Sulewski said “there’s no doubt we have a problem with flooding on Redington Beach.”
However, the trenches would be “very, very destructive,” and it is unclear how effective they would be. At high tide, he contended, the trenches would fill just with groundwater; at low tide, rain would remain in the trenches, rather than move into outfall pipes.
Sulewski “highly recommended” installation of Wastop valves on the town’s 40 outfall pipes. LTA engineer Lynn Burnett is recommending the valves, which prevent water from the bay from backing up into the pipes and flooding streets.
Another resident, Joe Smiley, said he was “neither for nor against” the trenches, but felt the commission should look at “the big picture.” The trenches were just one of many possible solutions to reduce pollution in Boca Ciega Bay. He urged commissioners to “step back” and consider other options before focusing on the infiltration trench.
Trenches require replacement, he added. “That means the town will have to have on staff or hire people that will ameliorate the plugging eventually of these trenches.”
The Wastop valves, he said, were a priority for the community, but other solutions should be considered to deal with the long-term issues of pollutants flowing in the bay.
Commissioner Tom Dorgan said the trenches not only trap water, but also clean the water before it flows into the bay. “Running water directly into the stormwater system isn’t the best method,” he said, referring to the valves, and which is why Burnett offered the trenches as an alternative. “If it’s something we need to revisit, then so be it.”
Commissioner Shantay Skjoldager agreed there are other options but noted residents have been against some of the options, such as pervious pavers or having natural vegetation as part of the landscape. She said she was open to more discussion, but “at some point, somebody’s going to be upset.”
Burnett is expected to meet with the commission again on May 5.
Library pact reviewed
The commission also reviewed a proposed interlocal agreement with the Gulf Beaches Library that would extend the current pact until 2026. The library receives funding from five beach communities: Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Shores, and Treasure Island.
The revised agreement calls for several changes. It would reorganize the makeup of the library board, reducing the number of members from 10 to five, with one member from each of the member municipalities. Each board member would have a chosen alternate who would vote in absence of the regular board member. The library director and a member of the Friends of the Gulf Beaches Library would be ex-officio members. The proposed agreement also calls for the library not to expand beyond its current footprint and to use $989,000 in current funds to upgrade library technology and to modernize the interior. It also calls for the library to limit financial reserves to no more than $100,000.
The agreement was last updated in 2012.
The proposal was heavily criticized by Dorgan, a longtime member of the library board of trustees, who questioned the proposed changes.
Should a member city withdraw from the board, the agreement does not specify how the vacant board position would be filled by the remaining members, he said. The agreement was too “restrictive,” and deadline dates for certain actions mentioned in the agreement “are not going to happen.” Furthermore, the Friends of the Gulf Beaches Library group was dissolved three years ago. He added that the library director was not part of the agreement negotiations and the agreement has not been reviewed by the trustees.
The proposed $100,000 reserve, he said, would not be enough to take care of an emergency.
Dorgan charged the new language in the contract gives Madeira Beach, which leases the land to the library, incentive to dissolve the library and reclaim the land.
The commissioner noted that the Madeira Beach mayor had stated he had no intention to take back the library land.
Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, and Redington Shores have approved the agreement. North Redington Beach has not.
Fellow commissioners and residents supported Dorgan’s criticisms, noting his long tenure on the library board. Commissioners asked Town Attorney Robert Eschenfelder to seek changes in the agreement in which the library director would be included.
Trask Daigneault Attorneys, the law firm of which Eschenfelder is a member, represents several beach communities, as well as the library board. The firm notified the commission of its potential conflict of interest in the negotiations, but commissioners agreed to allow the firm to continue its role in the renewed discussions.
Town codes updated
In other business, commissioners deliberated changes to several sections of the town code.
The panel approved, on final reading, updating the fire code to meet current national standards. Changes include banning the sale or explosion of fireworks as well as the storage of high explosives. It also prohibits anyone from interfering with firefighters performing their duties.
Changes in the regulations on parks and recreation were unanimously approved on first reading. The makeup of the parks board would be modified by adding an alternate member who can vote in the absence of one of the regular members. It would do away with two-year term limits for park board members, but members serving as chair and vice chair could only hold those offices for one year.
In addition, the ordinance would ban skateboards and hoverboards from all town parks as well as motor vehicles other than personal mobility devices. Vending would be banned within the parks except by the city or authorized concessionaires.
Changes to regulations on traffic, vehicles and parking also received unanimous approval on first reading. The ordinance would prohibit parking at Beach Park without a residential permit, double parking, parking in spaces designated for handicapped, leaving the keys in an unattended vehicle, or leaving a vehicle unattended with its motor running.
A public hearing on proposed changes to the town code relating to stormwater operating requirements and fees was continued to May 5.