Board Members present: Peter Belmont, Allan Brockway, Tim Clemmons, John Harte, Marilyn Olsen, Sydni Ann Shollenberger
Members absent: Tim Baker, Richard Freeburg, Mike Johnson, Gene Ormond, Joe Pugliano, Marie Stirling
The Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) held the fourth and final general membership meeting of 2008 on Thursday, October 9, 2008, at the Sunshine Center, 350 5th Street North, St. Petersburg. President Marilyn Olsen called the meeting to order at 7:09 p.m.
President Olsen announced that the minutes of the July 10, 2008, General Meeting and the most current (September 2008) financial statement had been posted on the DNA website and that copies of both were available at the back of the auditorium. Sydni Shollenberger moved and Hal Freedman seconded that reading of the minutes and financial report be approved as posted. The motion was passed without objection.
President Olsen then recognized City Council members in the audience, Jim Kennedy and Leslie Curran, and made announcements, including that nominations were now being accepted for DNA board membership. Election of board members is held annually at the January DNA general membership meeting.
DNA Board member Peter Belmont was weclomed to the podium to explain a petitioning process that has just begun to bring two proposed amendments to the City Charter to the November 2009 ballot in St. Petersburg.
One, the “waterfront Charter amendment” would give St. Petersburg voters the right to vote on new development in waterfront parks or on the changing of use in these parks. The second, the “wallets Charter amendment” proposes to give voters the right to vote on whether the City should pay for new professional sports facilities, including parking lots or parking garages for professional sports facilities, using public funds in any way.
Belmont announced that petitions for registered voters to sign, recommending that these two proposals be placed on the ballot in November 2009, were available in the back of the auditorium.
President Olson then introduced the first of the evening’s three guest speakers, Dr. Bill Heller, representative from St. Petersburg’s District 52 to the Florida House of Representatives. Dr. Heller reviewed the list of proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution that will be on the ballot on November 4, 2008, covering the origin and purpose of each and the pro’s and con’s of each. He spoke to inform and not to persuade voters one way or another on each of the six proposed amendments.
The second speaker was City Council Member Leslie Curran, who reviewed progress on restoring the appearance of Williams Park. She praised DNA for adopting Williams Park as part of the City’s Adopt-a-
Park program and for the very successful first Volunteer Day at the park on September 20. She noted the improvements resulting from the combined efforts of volunteers and City staff, including power washing of brick areas, painting of the fountain and band shell, and cleanliness of the sidewalks and lawn areas.
Joseph Kubicki, the City’s Director of Transportation and Parking, was the third guest speaker. He discussed the progress in building a trail along the waterfront of St. Petersburg, connecting with the Pinellas Trail coming from the west and south and from a to-be-expanded Clam Bayou Trail and then going on to connect with the North Bay Trail which will generally follow the waterfront along the downtown waterfront, past the Vinoy and on northward through North Shore Park. Ultimately, in several years, he said, a bicyclist or walkers will be able to go from near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and across the Friendship Bridge (the Old Gandy Bridge) into Hillsborough County and Tampa, with intermediate stops at such places as Weedon Island.
The proposed trail will be from 10 to 12 feet wide and striped to designate lanes for biking and walking. Plans to landscape in a coordinated way with the terrain the trail will pass through are also in the works. He also said there will be areas for emergency and police vehicles to access the trails, and he listened to suggestions from the audience for additions of call boxes and for small low signs reminding bicyclists to signal walkers when approaching from behind, both related to safety issues.
Peter Belmont, representing St. Petersburg Preservation, made an announcement concerning upcoming City walking tours.
After thanking the speakers and audience, President Olsen adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.
Sydni Ann Shollenberger, APR
Downtown Neighborhood Association