Tarpon Springs renews push for money to dredge Anclote River
In a pocket formed at the end of a branch of the Anclote River, Kevin Meisman has seen the size of the boats coming by his family's business get smaller.
Over time, sand and debris have made the path to Quality T-Tops & Boats Accessories more shallow. It has become harder to service bigger boats that use a deeper draft, he said, and sometimes a high tide is the only way to get some through.
Although he doesn't place all the blame on the lack of dredging, which could clear silt in the river for more depth, he believes it has played a role in the shift in business.
"If more people are reduced to a certain type of boat they can use, then it means we're reduced to a certain type of work we can do," said Meisman, 37.
He has heard talk from the city for years that a dredging project was imminent, but money has been an obstacle.
Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed Tarpon Springs' request for about $920,000 in state funding toward dredging the river. Still, city officials plan to continue pushing for a project that many agree is long overdue.
According to an economic impact study the city submitted to the state and to Scott, the river supports nearly 150 businesses and about 2,500 jobs. Mayor Chris Alahouzos says it's the source of $252 million in marine commerce and tourism. He was surprised when he heard about the veto.