TAMPA, Fla. -- Some Harbour Island residents are demanding answers after city leaders introduced a plan to replace aging wastewater lines. 

  • City: Harbour Island wastewater pipe overhaul needed
  • Wastewater pipes for Harbour Island installed in 1951
  • Residents say plan to replace pipes will rip up sidewalks, yards
  • Tampa, Harbour Island residents to meet Wednesday night

Harbour Island residents are getting together with Tampa officials to discuss the plans to replace the pipes, which residents say will force heavy construction through the island and tear up sidewalks, roads and yards. 

City officials said the pipes, which were installed in 1951, are reaching the end of their usage and need to be replaced. A consultant has been hired to study the potential routes for new pipes.

The president of the Harbour Island homeowners association said, after a meeting with city officials, that proposed pipe routes would rip up the spine of the island, tearing up roads and sidewalks and potentially damage ecosystems in ponds and landscaping. 

Residents want the city to consider different options for the pipes. So far, city officials say they are receptive.  

"The first step is to do the preliminary engineering, which is a route study they'll look," said Eric Weiss with Tampa Wastewater. "The professionals will look at, 'Do you rehabilitate this pipe in place?', 'If you can't, what are the alternative routes you can get from downtown to this facility?' and all options are wide open."

Residents and city officials are meeting Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay History Center. City officials said it will take residents' opinions into consideration before any final plan. 

South Neighborhood Association President Larry Premak said an all-water route for the pipes could be cheaper.

"Please look at the all-water route," Premak said of likely discussions at the meeting. "...they're saying this will cost $25 million - they can't even give us a figure for the all water route. If it costs $35 million, let's figure out how we're going to pay for it.

"Not 'this is your only option and deal with it, Harbour Island residents,' " he said.