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'$1.1M is a lot of money': Cost of restrooms halts Seminole Street boat ramp renovation project

Posted at 3:43 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 18:19:17-05

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Clearwater City Council has hit pause on phase two of the Seminole Street boat ramp renovation project, due to the $1.1 million it will cost to build restrooms.

The total cost for the project is $6.5 million, which includes the money for the restrooms.

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The city broke ground on the project back in March. The construction crew completed phase one about a month ago. They put in new boat docks, added more parking spaces and put in a fish cleaning area, more seating and picnic areas.

"It looks real good," said Michael Devine.

Devine has used the Seminole Street boat ramp for 45 years. He said the upgrades were "needed improvements."

He, like many others, would like to see real restrooms instead of the porta-potties, but he said "1.1 million dollars is too much for restrooms."

Several city council members agree with him, especially councilman Hoyt Hamilton. He said he was uncomfortable signing off on the restroom phase without looking for other possible options.

"Are we putting in marble fixtures or what," Hamilton said. "I think $1.1 million dollars is a lot of money."

The city's construction specialist, Thomas Mahoney, said the high cost is due to several factors.

One, the area is in a flood plain. The restroom will have to be elevated because of that. Two, they will have to put in an elevator and/or ramp for disabled visitors. Three, they will have to build a lift station so the raw sewage from the restrooms doesn't pollute the intracoastal waterways.

City engineers are now working to see if there is a way to bring the cost down. Mahoney will meet with council in January for an update.