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Residents: Eliminate erosion but keep trees

Homeowners say cutting their oak trees to build a cement ditch is not an acceptable solution to Bishop Creek's erosion.

By MEGAN SCOTT
Published June 11, 2005


SAFETY HARBOR - Losing 44 oak trees behind their homes is not an acceptable solution to Bishop Creek's erosion problems, residents say.

Yes, they want erosion controlled. But not if it means knocking down their oaks.

So they demanded the City Commission find another way.

This week, commissioners agreed to spend $10,000 to hire a new engineering firm to evaluate the creek.

"When the trees are gone and replaced with a cement ditch, property values will be drastically reduced," said Frank Mulligan, one of the seven affected homeowners.

Rain runoff has been eroding the creek in Rainbow Farms for years, eating away at property on the east side of the creek and depositing sediment on the west side.

East side homeowner Joe Rezendes has seen the creek move closer to his pool.

"He is the one that is in danger,"Commissioner Nadine Nickeson said. "At the current rate of erosion, his pool may be impacted, depending on how severe the summer storms are."

Commissioners approved a plan on May 16 to realign the creek, so it stops eating away at east side properties. But that plan requires cutting down 44 trees on the creek's west side and installing a paved drainage ditch.

Commissioner Kara Bauer estimated Safety Harbor would end up spending $600,000 on the project, including $100,000 to plant trees.

"It's an obscene amount of money for the scope of the problem," she said. "We have more than one creek problem. It sets a huge precedent. I do agree with the homeowners. It seems like overkill."

On Monday, Bob Smith, another property owner, managed to convince commissioners to hire another firm to devise another plan.

But he acknowledged the second engineer could come back with the same recommendation.

"I will not feel victorious until I know this project has been defeated and an alternative approach that doesn't include concrete has been approved," he said.

Megan Scott can be reached at 445-4167 or mscott@sptimes.com

[Last modified June 11, 2005, 00:25:17]


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