Budget conference: Ed Hooper is in line to get his full ask for Ruth Eckerd Hall

ruth eckerd hall
The iconic event venue is prone to flooding and water intrusion and is in need of repairs and hardening.

Ask and you shall receive might be Sen. Ed Hooper’s motto this week.

The latest House budget offer includes $820,000 to repair water damage, undertake certain hurricane hardening, replace or install various flood prevention fixtures and fund other improvements to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

That’s the exact amount Hooper requested. Both the House and the Senate included the line item in their budgets.

Ruth Eckerd Hall’s facilities are owned by the city of Clearwater, but the organization has a long-term lease with the city and is responsible for maintenance and asset replacements to the property.

Hooper’s request notes that while the “primary beneficiary of the capital investments are those using the facilities,” it is the patrons that use the facility who benefit most, including “students, employees, volunteers, and the public.”

The proposed funds would pay for “expenses associated with repair of water-damaged parking lot pavement; replacement of external doors with hurricane rated fixtures; repair of lift station; sump pump and replacement of piping for flood prevention; fire pump repair and replacement of alarm control board; and repainting of external building damaged by inclement weather.”

The facility is located in Pinellas County Evacuation Zone B, indicating a low-lying area, and is about 10 meters above nearby Tampa Bay. It’s also partially surrounded by a large lake that is subject to breaching natural shores. Combined, those elements leave Ruth Eckerd Hall prone to flooding and water intrusion.

Ruth Eckerd Hall welcomes about 458,000 patrons at events each year. The facility and its events contribute an estimated $144 million in economic activity to the community, including state and local tax collections.

The improvements are expected to not only restore damage and prevent future damage to the physical facility, but ensure a safer experience for guests.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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