INDIAN SHORES - The budding idea of a beach fire district appears to be still born after a meeting to explore the idea at the Indian Shores Town Hall May 18.
The idea was an outgrowth of the ongoing problem the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District is having with elected officials in the cities the district serves.
There is an Oversight Review Committee in place that commissioned a study by a consultant.
With that going on, Tom Hafner, chairman of the PSFRD, and the elected member of the board from Belleair Beach, sent out a letter asking the aggrieved elected officials in Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and the mainland to consider an enlarged district that would include beach communities south of Indian Shores.
Mayor Bill Ockunzzi of Indian Rocks Beach, at last Thursday's meeting, described those possible additions in the expansion plan as Madeira Beach and the "Redingtons" (Redington Shores, Redington Beach and North Redington Beach).
After a group made up of Mayor Jim Lawrence of Indian Shores, Mayor John Robertson of Belleair Shore, Ockunzzi, Mayor Rudy Davis of Belleair Beach, Commissioner John Todia of PSFRD, Assistant Chief Wayne Butler of the fire district and Todd Wagner, a firefighter who was there on the union's behalf, chatted up their ideas of a beach district, Mayor Charles Parker of Madeira Beach got the microphone.
Like a U-boat skipper of derring-do yore, he fired a torpedo that left those mentioned in the previous paragraph hanging from the ropes.
"The consensus in Madeira Beach is that we are not interested in combining with anyone," Parker said, his city manager, Jill Silverboard, sitting next to him and nodding affirmatively.
Parker went on - "We have our own department and with Seminole we serve three communities. We have complete control and would like to continue that." Then he rubbed some salt in that wound - "We would offer our services under our control and management to anyone who wants them."
Parker had no sooner uttered these words that left the participants in the main reason for the meeting catching their collective breath than Jody Armstrong, mayor of Redington Shores, grabbed the microphone and said emphatically, "We are not in favor of this and North Redington feels the same."
So much for that was exemplified in Lawrence's weary, "Now what?"
The main cogs managed to keep the meeting going for another 10 or 15 minutes and settled down to the idea of getting PSFRD in good order and then taking the county up on its offer of doing an analysis of the whole situation.
Ockunzzi pointed out that one aspect of approaching the beach cities fire situation is looking at it not so much in terms of "now, but what the future may bring."
Ockunzzi obviously wasn't about to give up on any innovative ideas, Parker and Armstrong to the contrary notwithstanding.
"We need to get our Oversight Committee's work wrapped up, get any ideas submitted to the legislative delegation (the Florida Legislature controls the PSFRD), get the county survey done and see what the numbers look like," Ockunzzi said.
Somebody, as the meeting was terminating after 50 minutes, said, "Mayors Parker and Armstrong sent us a strong message."
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