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Neighborhood Report: Mid Peninsula

Two neighborhood associations replace defunct one

The new groups formed to fill a void and have fewer responsibilities than the old one did. Neither will take on the original group's name.

By RON MATUS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 17, 2003


For years, it has been Mid Peninsula. The maps said so.

But the name of the perfectly rectangular neighborhood bounded by Kennedy Boulevard, Dale Mabry Highway, Lois Avenue and San Jose Street will soon be a historical footnote.

Two neighborhood associations have formed in recent months to replace one that has been defunct since 1989, but neither will carry the Mid Peninsula banner.

They can't afford it.

To resurrect the Mid-Peninsula Homeowners Association, somebody would have to pay the Florida Department of State $1,093.75 in "reinstatement fees." (That's $61.25 for each year the old group didn't pay, plus $175 in penalties.) Neither association is willing to do it.

One already has a new name: Palma Ceia West.

Members of the other will vote on a new name next month.

"I guess (the former association) will keep that name forever," said Michelle Heinrich, a Swann Avenue resident who is helping kick start the so-far-unnamed association.

It's not clear what happened to the old group. None of the officers listed in state records could be reached for comment.

The new groups felt the need to organize -- and to take on a smaller chunk of responsibility than the old one.

"We waited for the city to come along and do something," said Mel Zack, president of the Palma Ceia West Neighborhood Association. "They never did."

Palma Ceia West assumes the southern half of Mid Peninsula, with a new northern boundary at Morrison Avenue. It also includes a triangular swath of homes in the southwest corner.

The name changed, but the problems didn't, Zack said: Flooded streets. Poor lighting. Cut-through traffic.

In recent years, one child was killed and another seriously injured by speeding cars, he said. In 2001, neighbors learned about strength in numbers when they banded together to fight a cellular tower.

"As a result, they didn't build it," Zack said.

A crime spree helped prompt his neighbors to the north.

Roving bandits struck a slew of houses on Swann and nearby streets last January, including one where a teenage girl was home at the time, Heinrich said. Afterward, residents realized they didn't have a network to warn each other.

The association will allow them to speak with one voice, said Heinrich, a community planner with Hillsborough County.

"It'd be much more efficient ... than having individuals call one by one," she said.

One other neighborhood got on the map last year.

Stoney Point, once part of Sunset Park, registered with the city in April.

Residents had been meeting regularly for years, and chipping in on everything from barbecues to extra police patrols, said Ginger Caruso, secretary of the new Stoney Point Civic Association. So, they figured, why not do it officially?

Having an association will allow them to receive grants for neighborhood projects, and get more protection from police, Caruso said.

Bottom line: "We just want to be known," she said.

-- Staff writer Ron Matus can be reached at 226-3405 or matus@sptimes.com .

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