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Like, bummer: Skatepark on hold after site rejected

The City Council tables a plan to build the playground on 70th Avenue - much to the relief of residents there. But the idea isn't dead.

By MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002


SEMINOLE -- Back to the drawing board.

City Council members have nixed the idea of putting a skateboard park on property on 70th Avenue. But they say they haven't given up on the project.

Council member Pete Bengston says it's only fair that the city provide a venue for skateboarders and inline skaters like it does for other athletes. "We just need to do something for these kids," he said Tuesday during a workshop.

The decision was a relief for a handful of residents who attended the council's regular meeting and work session.

"Thank you. Thank you," said Rose Tamanini, who with her husband, Clarence Tamanini, lives across the street from the 1-acre property at 11110 70th Ave.

The residents said they were concerned that skaters would make too much noise, especially those who might jump the fence at night to skate. And they feared a park would increase traffic on 70th Avenue, where there already is a steady stream of cars because of the businesses that line the street.

Yet, like the council members, they agreed that the youths need a designated place to skate. Seminole banned skateboarding from all city property because of the damage caused by some skateboarders' tricks. The rule also stemmed from some skaters' unruly behavior and foul language while in Seminole City Park, a popular place for young children.

In 1999, state law made it possible for cities to open skateparks without the paralyzing fear of a lawsuit. Several municipalities have facilities, with Indian Rocks Beach the latest city to create one.

Realizing that a park in Seminole could draw youths from unincorporated areas, county officials say they would consider partnering with the city. Liz Warren, the county's park director, says the county could provide ramps and rails if Seminole constructed and operated the facility.

City officials considered the 70th Avenue location mainly because Seminole owns the land. The city bought the property last year to use one day for its public works department. The site previously housed Hook Funeral Home, which the city had demolished because the building was deemed too expensive to repair.

Jim Sheets, the city's recreation director, told council members Tuesday that it would cost between $55,000 and $65,000 to build and equip a skatepark at the 70th Avenue location. Another $10,000 would buy a restroom, he said.

Sheets and other city administrators now have more research to do since that site is no longer an option. "There is going to be skateboarding," Mayor Dottie Reeder said, referring to skaters using public and private property. "They're not going to stop."

So where else could the city put a park?

All council members agreed there wasn't any room to build a park at Seminole Recreation Complex on 113th Street. Reeder suggested Blossom Lake Park, an 11-acre park that rests along the Pinellas Trail in the Blossom Lake neighborhood east of Seminole Boulevard. Council member Janet Long wondered if one of the vacant commercial buildings in the city could be used for an indoor facility.

In other news

The council approved a five-year agreement with Pinellas County Schools that allows the city and county to share each other's property. For example, players with a city-sponsored soccer program can practice on fields at Seminole Middle School, and Seminole and Osceola high schools can hold dances at the Seminole Recreation Complex.

The council approved the termination of a 40-year lease with the county for its old toll booth office property at the eastern end of the Park Boulevard bridge. The plan to build a one-bay station at the site was dropped last year when negotiations between the city and county fell apart.

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