BELLEAIR SHORE — City Manager Lynn Rives of Belleair Beach came to Belleair Shore’s Town Commission meeting May 21 to talk of new and expanded projects, opportunities for his city to share resources to help out its much smaller neighbor.

Easements needed for Gulf Boulevard utility undergrounding

Rives first job was to secure Belleair Shore residents’ cooperation in signing easements needed for the undergrounding of utility wires on Gulf Boulevard. This is part of the Gulf Boulevard Beautification Project being funded by the county. The funding is shared by Belleair Beach and Belleair Shore, but the job is being managed by Belleair Beach for both communities, which share frontage on the roadway.

The easements are badly needed, Rives said, to assure that workers have access to run the conduit to the properties, and to place transformers where needed. About half the easements required have been signed, Rives said.

Not all homes will need a transformer, Rives said, as some already have underground connections. The conduit carrying the wires to the homes will be underground where no one can see it.

Town Attorney Regina Kardash said she had heard concerns from some residents that the easement agreements are “too expansive” and give too much leeway to the utilities, including the right to remove landscaping without replacing it like it was.

Rives offered to come out to residents’ homes and show them where everything would be placed.

New beach access landscaping

Another project for Belleair Shore is new landscaping for the town’s three beach accesses at Sixth, 12th and 19th streets. That is another Gulf Boulevard Beautification Project that is paid for by the county, Rives said.

Both sides of the access entrances will be enhanced with palm trees, new irrigation and hibiscus, Rives said. The project will cost a little over $140,000 and includes landscaping at the marina in Belleair Beach. All the landscaping is in the right of way.

“We’re all ready to get going and finish this project,” Rives said.

The timetable calls for the work to start sometime in June and be finished by August.

“We’ll take out plants, the low landscaping that is there now, and put in all new stuff,” Rives said.

Quarterly beach raking

Town Clerk Barbara Colucci said Belleair Beach crews had raked Belleair Shore’s beach access areas during the recent red tide, and Rives has offered to “rake our beach quarterly” along with the regular raking of Belleair Beach.

Rives said he would do that because “we’re neighbors. We may have two commissions, but we’re really one community.”

“We’ve been raking the beach accesses, and last year when the red tide came, we tried to help out,” Rives said. “Our residents use your beach accesses, and I think it’s important to help and keep it clean for everybody. We want to keep it nice, and not just for our residents.”

“That’s a wonderful consideration,” Colucci said.

“If you want to rake it, that would be great,” Mayor Robert Schmidt said.

Rives added the quarterly beach raking would be done at no cost to Belleair Shore. It will be an expansion of the Belleair Beach raking, he said.