REDINGTON SHORES – Sewage processing costs in a typical community can run high. A sewer system’s cost can increase significantly if rainwater enters the lines, increasing the flow, and driving up the processing bill from the county.

Relining the sewers seals them from infiltration by water, especially during rains. Last year, the town commission voted to begin a sewer relining project, after Commissioner Jeff Neal reported significant water infiltration was causing the town to pay the county “$20,000 to $50,000 a month to process rainwater that has seeped into the system along with the sewage water.”

Then-Finance Board Chairman Chris Henderson said at the time, “That’s our problem. We’re getting significant groundwater and rainwater making its way into the sewer system, and the county is billing for that.”

At the June 27 Town Commission meeting, Neal said the sewer relining project is progressing well. Sewers on the west side of town in the 178th and 181st area have been relined.

The town has a five-year plan to complete the relining, Neal said. Right now, Neal said “we have a good deal in place” with the contractor doing the work.

Neal said the town should move ahead and accelerate the project, and do the area served by the 176th Avenue lift station, the largest in town, while the contractor deal is on.

Neal estimated the relining reduced the town’s sewer bill by 20 to 25 percent.

“We would be smart to move forward, because it is clearly helping,” Neal said.

“Let’s go ahead and spend the money to finish it. It will save us about $15,000 to $20,000 a month in sewer bills,” Neal said. “I think if we amend the budget now and finish these lines, at least for 176th, we’ll definitely be ahead of the game.”

The commission, in a 3-0 vote, decided to move ahead with the sewer relining. Mayor Mary Beth Henderson and Commissioner Michael Robinson were not present.

Neal also expressed concern about recent sewer bills from the county, which he said were “really high.” He said the sewer flow is being analyzed, and comparisons made into the price charged.

“I’ll have more on this at a future commission meeting,” Neal said.

Citizens want to save historic pier, disagree on how

A number of people, from Redington Shores and nearby communities, were at the meeting and spoke, some with emotion-charged voices, to save the Redington Long Pier. The historic wooden structure was built in 1962.

The topic was not on the agenda, but people were reacting to a social media post that said the pier’s status would be discussed at the commission meeting.

Also, an email from the pier’s owner was circulating, asking citizens to sign an online petition urging Redington Shores officials to change the zoning on the pier property to allow for condos or a hotel development. The email said the choice is “between a zoning change that could save the pier or the pier’s removal.”

The pier’s owner, Christopher Antonious, contends he is “unable to finance the major structural repairs needed” to the pier. Building condos or other housing could provide the income needed, he said.

All of those who commented at the meeting wanted to save the pier, but there were differences of opinion as to how to do that.

Tom Haas, a longtime Redington Shores resident, said, “If the zoning is changed to allow condominiums, it’s over. The pier is gone.”

Paul Kinney, president of Anglers Cove Condominiums which is next to the pier, said they had heard about a zoning change “so (the owners) can build a building there.”

“We are not happy about that,” Kinney said.

Loss of the pier would be devastating, said George Proctor. He said he had been fishing the pier since 1966.

“I can’t imagine losing the pier,” said Proctor, fighting back tears.

Alex Kaczmarski of Indian Rocks Beach, who said he works at the pier and “loves it,” said rezoning of the pier property should include “not (just) a promise to fix the pier, but say in writing, ‘We will fix the pier.’” Kaczmarski said the pier is an economic driver for the area.

Dan Condron said the owners have not been doing maintenance, and the pier is “just falling apart.”

Kevin Dennis, who has fished the pier since he was 12, said the pier used to be thriving, and the parking lot was packed. But now, it has become “a huge, huge problem.”

“These people have run it down to the ground,” Dennis said. “Why can’t it be owned by the state, or Redington Shores?” he asked.

Despite the citizens’ comments, Commissioner Tom Kapper, who was chairing the meeting in the mayor’s absence, said “We can’t speak on this because there’s nothing been presented to the town.”

Assistant Town Attorney Lauren Rubenstein also said there has not been a rezoning application filed with the town by the pier owners, and nothing is scheduled to be done.

Commissioner Neal, reacting to questions posed by Kevin Dennis, said, “I can assure you that when the time comes, we’re going to be on it.”

“That’s the best answer you’ve given us all day. What you just said, gives a little bit of hope. We’d like to see something happen to (save) it,” said Dennis.