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Sick of speeders, some buy own speed bumps

The city plans action in Lakewood, but not soon enough for some homeowners.

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tired of speeders streaking down their streets, some Lakewood Estates residents are buying their own speed bumps.

City officials have no problem with the neighborhood's ambition as long as the road changes fall within the city's traffic plan.

Eight streets within Lakewood Civic Association boundaries have been categorized by St. Petersburg officials as dangerous roads and have been approved for traffic calming measures.

The suggested road work will be reviewed next month by the City Council, said Michael Frederick, neighborhood transportation manager.

But even if the traffic plan is approved, the work wouldn't start until the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, 2004. Residents say that's too long to wait.

"My daughters will be riding tricycles by then," said Tim Pappas, 38, whose twin daughters, Nina and Joy, are four months old.

So residents are putting up the money themselves.

Pappas and his wife, Sonia, recently paid $1,100 for a speed bump near their home on Columbus Way between De Soto and Calexico ways. That stretch of Columbus ranks sixth on the city's list of hazardous roads.

"It's gotten so obscene, I can't go for a walk with my wife and children," Pappas said. "I'm not going to wait until one of my children gets hit or killed. If I have an opportunity to pay for a speed bump, it's a small investment to pay for my children's safety."

Another speed bump, purchased by Lakewood Civic Association members, will be placed next week on Anastasia Way S, east of Columbus.

Frederick said this is the first time the city has approved a traffic-calming device paid for by neighbors.

"This is just like any other infrastructure project," Frederick said. "The residents provide the funding and the city will do it."

But Susan Huff, 43, who lives at 2627 DeSoto Way S, doesn't think residents should have to pay for speed bumps for roads that tax dollars paid for and maintain.

On a pole near her driveway is a sign she posted about a month ago: "Caution: Children at Play."

"I got tired of hearing my husband screaming at the cars," Huff said. Her house is known as a hangout for neighborhood kids, who want to play basketball, swim in her pool or skate in the driveway. Huff has 12 to 15 kids, including her 7-year-old son, Matson, at her home each day. She has another tactic for slowing down motorists who zoom past her house: She stands in the middle of the road.

"They slam on their brakes," Huff said. "They cuss and yell at me."

On a light pole along Fairway Avenue S, a yellow sign with black lettering is direct: "It's a neighborhood, not a race track!"

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