Seminole Landmark Coming Down
Pinellas County, which owns the Seminole water tower, has closed the park surrounding it so that demolition work can begin.
SEMINOLE – Work began this morning (July 5) to prepare the Seminole water tower for demolition, Pinellas County said.
The tower, noted for its paint job that makes the tower look like a cage with birds flying inside, has long stood as a Seminole landmark. It has recently been the subject of a dispute as some area residents and Seminole council members have sought to preserve the tower as a landmark. Others in the area and Pinellas County Utilities, which owns the tower and the pocket park beneath it, have said it needs to come down.
For Pinellas County, it’s a matter of safety. County officials say the tower is deteriorating and is a potential public safety hazard.That conclusion is doubted by those who want to preserve the tower. The tussle between the city and county over the tower has gone on for more than a year.
Most recently, the county offered to lease the property to the city of Seminole, but council members said they wanted to make a counter offer. They authorized Seminole City Manager Ann Toney-Deal to go to the next County Commission meeting to plead the city’s case. But the county refused to listen.
Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard sent out an email to commissioners June 28, the day after the Seminole council met, explaining the situation:
“Yesterday, the Seminole City Council unanimously voted to reject the county’s lease proposal. A second motion was made by Council Member [Thom] Barnhorn directing the city manager and city attorney to present a counter proposal to the Board of County Commissioners at your July 18th Meeting. This motion passed unanimously. During the discussion on the latter motion, the council expressed a desire to publicly negotiate the lease with the County Commission.
“The matter of placing this item on your agenda has been discussed with the chairman [Janet Long]. As a result, it will not be considered further. Accordingly, the demolition bid received by the County on May 23, 2017 has been awarded. The contractor will start mobilization soon and the entire demolition project, including the removal of underground piping, is slated for completion by the end of November.
“If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.”
Today (July 5), the county announced it was closing the park and proceeding to prepare to demolish the structure.
A pipe contractor hired by Pinellas Utilities is locating supply lines to be capped before a demolition contractor begins work. Fencing will be installed around the perimeter of the property within the next few weeks.
The station, which has been inoperable since 2012, was once part of water distribution infrastructure operated by Pinellas County Utilities. It was built in the 1950s, used throughout several decades and taken out of service when new utility technology made it obsolete. However, ongoing annual maintenance costs amount to more than $13,000, compounded by deferred maintenance expenses estimated at $125,000, county officials said. The demolition will save Utilities rate payers money and prevent continuing deterioration of the tower with the potential to create a public safety hazard.
A press release, issued by Pinellas County, reads:
“Previously, the County offered the City of Seminole several opportunities to purchase or lease the property. Those options were declined, and no agreement could be reached.
“Pinellas County Utilities is obligated by its financial duty to its customers to limit liability for the aging structure and recover the investment made in the land. By selling the property, Pinellas County Utilities will further uphold its duty to its customers by returning the funds to the Utilities Water Fund—a separate utility enterprise funded by water utility customers. This will help keep utility rates affordable, while ensuring the revenue can be reinvested in the utility system toward maintenance, operations and other critical services.”
Demolition work is expected to be completed in November.
Photo of water tower by Anne Lindberg, TB Reporter.
Seminole | Water Tower | Pinellas County Utilities | Ann Toney-Deal | Mark Woodard | Pinellas County | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter
#Seminole #WaterTower #PinellasCountyUtilities #AnnToneyDeal #MarkWoodard #PinellasCounty #TampaBayNews #TBReporter