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Group plotting facelift for park

Ideas discussed for Lealman Park include a tot park, basketball courts and a dog run. Residents can have their say Wednesday.

By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002

LEALMAN -- On a recent weekday, a group of adults and teens gathered in the sun-dappled shade of Lealman Park.

Seated at picnic tables, they joked about children's recreation projects -- weaving lanyards or gluing Popsicle stick houses. Then they got down to business: how to improve the park so Lealman residents have a place for their children to play.

The goal is to "maybe breathe some new life into this very valuable neighborhood resource," said Liz Warren, head of Pinellas County's Park Department. "We can make some real significant improvements."

Among the possibilities discussed were a tot park, lighted basketball courts and a dog run. But with a budget of $45,000-$50,000, a makeover might have to happen in stages.

Residents will have a chance to hear about the proposals and make other suggestions Wednesday at the Lealman Community Association meeting. Warren will be the keynote speaker, 7 p.m. at the Disabled American Veterans, 4801 37th St. N. The meeting is open to the public.

County officials promised in March to improve the park at 54th Avenue N between 39th and 40th streets to help head off a civil war between fire officials and community activists.

The two groups were butting heads over a fire station that has long been planned for the northeast corner of the park. Community activists had argued that the $3-million earmarked for the station should be redirected to recreation activities for Lealman kids because there are no parks or other activities in the area.

County administrator Steve Spratt stepped in and promised to look into recreation for Lealman. The most immediate promise was to create a tot park at the Lealman Park, which should go in late summer or early fall.

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