BELLEAIR — Town officials will have a preliminary engineering report prepared on their water plant and the feasibility of converting it to a reverse osmosis plant.

Commissioners on Jan. 7 approved town officials’ request to pay the North Carolina-based firm of McKim & Creed $324,223 to conduct the work.

The report is part of the town’s process of evaluating long-term potable water supplies needed for town utility customers.

Reverse osmosis is used to remove contaminants from water by pushing the water under pressure through membranes.

“The report that we deliver is what will give you as much information as you can possibly need within the realm of reason of what it will require to move forward or not move forward with RO,” Town Manager J.P. Murphy said.

A rate study, analysis of the wellfields and preliminary design and phasing of the reverse osmosis plant as opposed to a full built-out will be addressed. The report also will take into account funding opportunities.

Before commissioners decide whether they have to continue with the town’s own water generation or not, Murphy said he wants to make sure commissioners have as much information as possible.

“Because water is the most valuable resource in the state of Florida,” he said. “Once you get rid of your water generation system, you are highly likely not to get it back with almost certainty you will not be able to pull another water permit for extraction in the county.”

Funds for the study will come from the town’s water fund reserve balance. The town’s Infrastructure Board recommended unanimously that the commission approve the study.

Tom Olson, chairman of the town’s Finance Board, said he believes the board has been open to reverse osmosis, but wants to explore alternatives undertaken by other cities, such as Clearwater and Dunedin, their history and their experience.

“You already phrased it properly one of the most precious resources. We have our own access to water. If there’s a financial way to preserve that, the Finance Board will be on board,” Olson said.

Commissioners expressed support to have the report conducted.

“To walk away and not do our due diligence would be a detriment to residents, especially when it comes to water,” Commissioner Karla Rettstatt said.

Town officials also will pay McKim & Creed $63,554 for hydraulic modeling to better evaluate the existing water distribution. The modeling includes updating maps with the size and materials of the current water mains.

Town officials eye crosswalk work

Town officials plan to install crosswalks at the intersection of Rosery and Osceola roads, the four-way stop at Poinsettia Road and Indian Rocks Road, and the south tip of Hunter Memorial Park.

“Those were the first three we identified that were high-pedestrian areas, particularly Bayview (Drive) and then now Rosery with more folks wanting to use the parks over there,” the city manager said.

Town officials plan to install rectangular rapid flashing beacons that pedestrians use to alert motorists that they intend to use the crosswalk. Staff recommends the beacons be used at midblock crossings.

“We wouldn’t do that at the four-way stops because traffic has already come to a stop, and they can wait for the pedestrian to cross,” Murphy said.

Work on the various improvements will begin this month.

Events slated

The Belleair Sunset 5K and Fun Run is set for Saturday, Jan. 25, 5 p.m. Registration is open at www.belleair.racehawk.com. Visit the site for route information. Residents can receive a discounted rate by registering at the Dimmitt Community Center.

The 1-mile race begins at 5 p.m. and the 5K race begins at 5:15 p.m.

The first Sundays in Belleair concert of the year on Sunday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m., will feature #NoFilter, a band that performs high-energy hits.

Belleair residents may buy a $5 ticket at the Dimmitt Community Center only. General admission tickets are $10; VIP passes are available for $75 each.