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City wants time to study waterfront

Port Richey ponders a 90-day halt to waterfront building, but some businesses urge caution.

By MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 7, 2001


PORT RICHEY -- The city of Port Richey is considering shutting down building along the city's waterfront for 90 days so it can study how to protect the waterways.

On Wednesday, at City Manager Vince Lupo's request, Mayor Eloise Taylor called for a special meeting of the City Council for tonight. But as of Wednesday night, there weren't enough council members planning to attend for there to be a quorum; Joe Menicola, Phyllis Grae and Pat Guttman were all either out of town or had prior commitments.

Lupo said if there isn't a quorum, waterfront protection will be on the agenda at Tuesday's council meeting. He said he's looking for guidance from council members on how to deal with two gambling boats on the city waterways.

The waterways, the center point of the Little City by the River, have had more attention paid to them lately with the opening of the second gambling boat operation, Stardancer Casino Cruises, set for this month.

Stardancer vice president Sam Gray Jr. said he has no problems with the city trying to protect its resources, and is willing to work with officials. However, he said he would fight any city effort to keep him closed for another 90 days.

"For them to stop a business that's licensed at this time would be dangerous to the city" if they are trying to avoid a lawsuit, Gray said.

Council members reached Wednesday afternoon all agreed that the city needed to protect the waterways, but Guttman and Menicola said they were concerned the city might get sued if it isn't careful.

Taylor said "the city needs to consider what happens on the waterfront so that we don't repeat the same mistakes as in the past."

- Matthew Waite can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6247.

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