Extension of sewer to heart of Parrish awaits start of new subdivisions

MANATEE -- The development of huge new neighborhoods around Parrish, such as the Villages of Amazon South and Cone Ranch, will soon bring sanitary sewer service to the historic heart of Parrish.

How quickly? As soon as developers start construction on the new neighborhoods, said Sia Mollanazar, Manatee County's deputy director of public works.

When developers get started in earnest with their projects, the county will seek bids for the sewer system, he said.

"Because it's a big line, we need flow," Mollanazar said of the planned 12-inch main that will serve the traditional village of Parrish, as well as proposed new neighborhoods.

With a budget of $6.5 million, the county has banked the money to pay for a force main and master lift station, which would extend sewer service north from County Road 675 to Erie Road and eventually beyond.

The county could go out for bids in the next 12 to 18 months, depending on the start of construction of new neighborhoods around Parrish, Mollanazar said.

The county investigated installing the sewer main along the west side of U.S. 301 North, where most of

Parrish's population is located, but found that a gas main and other utilities were already there.

Instead, 121st Avenue East, which runs parallel to U.S. 301, was chosen for the sewer main, Mollanazar said.

While Parrish residents say they are happy that the entire village will be getting access to sewer, they are not necessarily pleased that the main will go down 121st Avenue.

"The sewer service is a good thing, but it is in the wrong place. It really needs to be along U.S. 301," said Iris McClain, a director of the Parrish Civic Association.

Norma Kennedy, treasurer of the Parrish Civic Association, also has concerns about the 121st Avenue location.

But she worries that the proposed Parrish bypass that would connect Fort Hamer Road to Moccasin Wallow Road via 121st Avenue, could divert the economic lifeblood that the village needs to prosper.

"For Parrish not to die, we have to have sewer. Restaurants won't come in here and try to operate on septic tanks," Kennedy said.

A sewer system serving the heart of Parrish would open up a whole new world, Kennedy said, and new restaurants and other businesses would help make the community a more inviting destination.

The lack of sewer has kept many potential new businesses from locating in Parrish, community leaders said.

"I can't tell you how many businesses have entertained the idea of going into Parrish. When they find out there is no sewer, they say, 'Oh, no, I can't do that,'" McClain said.

Gretchen Fowler, a board member of the Parrish Civic Association, said that it makes more sense to install sewer alongside U.S. 301, which will be widened anyway.

"It doesn't add up putting it on 121st Avenue," Fowler said.

A more immediate project for Parrish is the widening of 1.2 miles of U.S. 301 North from County Road 675 to Moccasin Wallow Road, starting in August.

The improved U.S. 301 will be four-laned with a median, and have sidewalks and streetlights, said Robin Stublen, communications specialist for the Florida Department of Transportation.

The widened highway will also include casements that will allow sewer lines to be extended under the road.

Highway work is expected to take approximately one year and cost $6,983,880.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.