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Members present: Tim Baker, Peter Belmont, Allan Brockway, Tim Clemmons, Richard Freeburg, John Harte, Mike Johnson, Marilyn Olsen, Joe Pugliano, Sydni Ann Shollenberger

New Member Candidate present: Gene Ormond

Member absent: Marie Stirling

The Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) Board of Directors met at the UPS Store on 2nd Avenue North in downtown St. Petersburg, on Thursday, January 3, 2008. President Tim Baker called the meeting to order at 7:28 p.m., after members present had gathered at 7 p.m. to prepare the January 2008 (Volume 10, #1) of The DNA News for mailing.

Baker stated that the meeting had been called to discuss the way in which the board wished to approach the proposal by the Tampa Bay Rays that an expanded stadium be built on the Al Lang site and surrounding areas, all within the boundaries of the DNA designated neighborhood, and that to finance the new siting and structure, the current 85-acreTropicana stadium site be redeveloped as a commercial and residential hub. Baker stated that this was perhaps the biggest redevelopment project the City of St. Petersburg has ever considered, one Òwhich could have an impact for perhaps five or more generations.Ó

Before the discussion on the RaysÕ proposal began, he recommended that we discuss the proposed panhandling ordinance before the City Council, an issue on which member Mike Johnson, who has worked extensively on City homeless issues, had asked for board comment and consensus.

MOTION: Sydni Shollenberger moved, Mike Johnson seconded that the boundaries of the Downtown Neighborhood Association district also be the boundaries covered by the CityÕs downtown panhandling ordinance. The area covers from 5th Avenue North to 5th Avenue South and from Martin Luther King, Jr., Street to Tampa Bay. APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY

After a short discussion on the Tampa Bay RaysÕ proposal, a second motion was offered.

MOTION: Sydni Shollenberger moved, Mike Johnson seconded that a letter restating the DNA boardÕs position on designating the Al Lang site as parkland, be sent to City Council prior to their work on the so-called ÒGlitch bill,Ó which covers areas in the recently adopted land development regulations (LDRS) not adequately considered or included in discussions and passage of the new LDRs and which should be adopted as addenda to the new code. APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY

Marilyn Olsen agreed to draft the letter expressing the boardÕs restatement of its position on zoning Al Lang as parkland.

Discussion then proceeded on the main topic: the proposal to build a new baseball stadium on an expanded site of the present Al Lang field and to redevelop the Tropicana Dome site for mixed use.

President Baker recommended that the group focus on two immediate aspects to be considered:

(1) slowing down/delaying the request for proposals (RFP) process for redevelopment of the current Tropicana site in order to allow for more public involvement, and

(2) preparing a list of issues to be included in the RFP whenever it is issued by the City, in order to assure that citizen interests are represented as fully as those of the Rays

There was a review of the meetings currently planned by the Rays and the City: January 9, 6 p.m., Tropicana, a session hosted by the Rays, announced by the City, and requiring RSVPs; January 17, at the end of the regular City Council meeting, a workshop to discuss what is to be included in the RFP. No public input is planned for this session, that is, it is not a public hearing.

In addition, on January 10, DNA will hold a public meeting at Sunshine Center, beginning at 7 p.m., at which the Rays will give a presentation to be followed by an hour of Q&A. The DNA board agreed to solicit additional questions which time may not allow to be answered at the meeting on the 10, to be collected in written form and forwarded to the City and RaysÕ organization.

No public hearings on the RFP are planned at this time by the City government. Therefore, the DNA board discussion moved toward a motion.

MOTION: Peter Belmont moved, Mike Johnson seconded: To allow for greater public participation in preparation for this significant decision about the CityÕs future development resulting from the RaysÕ proposal and its impact economically, socially, and environmentally, the City Council should extend the process prior to the RFP issuance by at least 90 days, including at least one public visioning session and two public hearings, and the City Council should acquire the expertise required to help elected officials and City staff fully understand implications of all aspects of the RFP process and selection of a developer for a billion dollar project and of the long-term impact of stadium siting on the CityÕs downtown waterfront. APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY

Discussion followed on the types of issues the DNA wished to see included in an RFP when it is issued after sufficient public input. They include density, users, transportation, employment potential, environmental issues, height limits, workforce housing, public parks and open space.

Tim Clemmons stated that one way to express to City Council the need was to suggest that the best approach should be through a more Òrobust public processÓ of participation in questioning, visioning, and helping arrive at best conclusions.

The meeting was adjourned at 9 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sydni Ann Shollenberger, APR


Downtown Neighborhood Association

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