St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Old pipes in Kenneth City call for professional help

The town will choose an engineer to oversee repairs of an antiquated drainage system.

ANNE LINDBERG
Published February 11, 2004

KENNETH CITY - Council members plan to hire an engineer tonight, a step they hope will help solve all this town's drainage issues.

The engineer will evaluate Kenneth City's drains, establish a schedule for repair and replacement, and oversee the work.

Kenneth City officials spent years trying to resolve drainage issues on their own. They were unable to do so, in part, because of elections that ousted council members whose job it was to fix drainage problems.

When Al Carrier lost his seat in the 2003 election, plans he had made lay dormant until Mayor Bill Smith asked about the progress of one repair job. When told that nothing had been done, Smith decided it was time to change tactics.

"That's when we decided we (needed) an engineer who understands this kind of work," the mayor said. "It's not like we're sitting here and don't have the money to do it. We don't know how to do it."

So council members asked engineering firms to submit proposals. Six applied for the job: Northside Engineering Services, Clearwater; EMK Consultants of Florida, Tampa; Professional Engineering Consultants, Orlando; Silcox, Kidwell and Associates, Tampa; GGI LLC, Tampa; and Advanced Engineering and Design, St. Petersburg.

The council plans to select three at tonight's meeting. They'll negotiate with the top candidate and, if no agreement can be reached, they'll move down the list of three.

The chosen engineer will evaluate the system, set up a schedule of repairs, create the paperwork to ask contractors to bid on the job, and then oversee the work to make sure it is done correctly, Smith said. That's when a true price for the work will be known.

Town officials have long known they have problems with the antiquated drainage system, which was installed between 1954 and 1957.

"Over the years, it's deteriorated," Smith said during a recent council workshop.

Beginning in 1989, officials started repairing things and a few years ago, started cleaning and lining the corrugated metal pipes. They eventually held off on the lining until videotapes were made to evaluate the pipes' condition. Over that 14-year period, they spent about $732,900.

Officials have set aside $350,000 in this year's budget for drainage repairs.

The deterioration has gotten worse in recent years. Town residents have complained of flooding. Others have complained of sinkholes in their yards.

One pipe near Joe's Creek has caved in and dirt is running into the creek.

"That's an immediate problem there," Smith said.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.