TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — You usually hear about neighborhoods fighting to add sidewalks, but homeowners in one area of Tarpon Springs are fighting to keep sidewalks out of their front yards.
People who live along South Spring Boulevard in the Historic District of Tarpon Springs are worried about ripping up their lawn, mature trees, irrigation systems and mailboxes to make way for a new sidewalk.
Currently, the sidewalk along South Spring Boulevard ends at Lime Street and stops for 700 feet to Lemon Street, where the sidewalk picks back up.
The area is very popular with walkers and bikers because of its proximity to Craig Park and the Spring Bayou. Yet, without sidewalks, city leaders say walkers are forced into the street or to traipse through people’s yards. City leaders say they have the right away. They also offered to pay to have any homeowner's irrigation systems moved.
John Barron lives along South Spring Boulevard and is in favor of sidewalks. “It's very dangerous along this narrow street, especially at night. It’d be nice to open this area up and make it better,” Barron said.
Many of his neighbors, including Paul Sotirakis, disagree.
“I think it would look terrible. It would be a mess, a total mess,” he said. “Some of the homes have a 15-foot front yard that would take their whole yard, it would be practically up to their front door!”
Instead, Sotirakis would like to see a boardwalk on the other side of S. Spring Boulevard. “It keeps people out of your yard and keeps them looking at the view,” he added.
The sidewalks are facing so much opposition that Tarpon Springs leaders decided to throw out the idea altogether. Now, they’re back to the drawing board.
"I think we need to think about safety," Barron said. "I would even be willing to give an easement to the city to put it on my property."
Tarpon Springs leaders are on a mission to come up with a new idea quick. City leaders say the narrow road is putting walkers within inches of danger.