Posted December 12, 2019
Mayor expects extra $800k for work on Anclote River turn basin
TARPON SPRINGS — Tarpon officials received an early Christmas present this year, as Mayor Chris Alahouzos said the city is set to receive an additional $800,000 from the state for a portion of the Anclote River Dredge Project.
Alahouzos said he has been working with state Rep. Chris Sprowls and state Sen. Ed Hooper, both Palm Harbor-area Republicans, to get the bill for $800,000 to be included in the main dredge project. “Yesterday, Senator Hooper said, ‘Chris, I got what you wanted,’ ” Alahouzos said at a Nov. 23 business opening.
The mayor was referring to Florida State House Bill 3121, which provides an appropriation for the Tarpon Springs Anclote River Extended Turning Basin Dredge in the amount of $812,100.
The bill was filed by state Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, on Nov. 12 and referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee on Nov. 25. Alahouzos believes, however, the additional funding, which would go toward dredging an area of the turn basin not covered by the federally funded Army Corps of Engineers work, is all but assured.
“I think it will be approved by the subcommittee, so I’m very thankful to Chris Sprowls and Ed Hooper and Chris Latvala for their help submitting this bill,” Alahouzos said.
Work on the much-needed dredge project, which would restore the river to its original depths following decades of silt and soil accumulation, is set to start next summer, according to a project update posted on the city’s website dated Nov. 21, which notes that the Corps of Engineers is “working to complete the design and permitting and is expected to bid the job for construction in January 2020.”
Regarding the extended turn basin, or XTB, the site states the city engineer is working to complete the design and permitting to match the Corps of Engineers’ schedule for bidding by January, intending to piggyback on ACE’s contract for the dredge of the extended turn basin. “Design and permitting work progressing steadily and is currently on schedule.”
Earlier this year, Alahouzos and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, met with Sponge Docks merchants to inform them that the federal government had agreed to restore $3 million in funds for the dredge project that had been diverted to Hurricane Michael relief efforts in the Florida Panhandle.
According to the U.S. House member, the project is complex because it requires funding, participation and cooperation from several government agencies.
“This was a team effort,” Bilirakis said from a dock outside Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill on May 24. “This project has money from the city, money from the county and the state, and now we have restored $3 million in federal funds. It’s sitting in an account specifically for the Anclote River Dredge Project. It’s a real victory for the area.”
Alahouzos considered the latest news another big victory.
“It’s a huge deal for us,” he said.