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Town 'N Country

Civic picked her battles

After almost 30 years in her neighborhood, Bea Sinicrope knows which green spaces and roads have provoked fights.

By JACKIE RIPLEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 18, 2003


TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- Bea Sinicrope is probably best known around her Dana Shores neighborhood for growing some of the sweetest tomatoes around -- a testament to the hours she spends pulling weeds and nurturing all things green, from broccoli to rosemary.

But despite her green thumb, Sinicrope never completely tunes out what's going on in her Town 'N Country neighborhood.

"I pick my battles," the 62-year-old Sinicrope said. "I keep my eyes and ears open."

Not afraid to speak up, Sinicrope often can be found at neighborhood civic meetings voicing her concerns, from a recent plan by HARTline to move a bus transfer station from Waters Avenue in the heart of Town 'N Country to Linebaugh Avenue near Countryway, to helping stop expressway tolls on a neighborhood street back in the 1980s.

Sinicrope, and husband Al Sinicrope, led a campaign in the late 1980s that prompted expressway officials to build a frontage road from Hillsborough Avenue to the Veterans Expressway at Eisenhower Boulevard, giving motorists a way out of Town 'N Country without having to pay a toll.

Sinicrope, who admits she goes "to civic meetings to agitate things," said she was asked recently to protest a part of the Town 'N Country Community Plan calling for building a senior center at Paul and Ambassador drives, currently the site of an open field.

But once again, she picked her battle.

"I'm not gung-ho about the plan," Sinicrope said. "But I'm not going to get my back up."

Sinicrope did, however, get her back up, again in the '80s, when part of Rocky Point Golf Course was eliminated to make room for development of what was then Criticon Inc. at Boy Scout Road, and now houses Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp.

"The civic association lost on that one because we wanted to keep our greens," Sinicrope said. "But they found out we were not a place to come in and roll over."

Sinicrope said developers compromised by giving the community some nature trails to make up for reducing Rocky Point to an 18-hole course.

The Sinicropes, who moved into their Dana Shores home in 1974 with their three daughters, have seen a lot of other changes in the neighborhood.

For instance, a skeet shooting range once sat on land that Chase Manhattan currently occupies.

"I kept hearing this sound," Sinicrope recalled. "It was clay pigeons."

The Sinicrope household also has changed. The couple's three daughters are now in their 30s, Bea Sinicrope is five years into retirement from her job as a physical therapist, and Al Sinicrope has logged several years teaching American history at Webb Middle School.

Some things, though, never change, such as Bea Sinicrope's green thumb.

"I think it's important for my grandchildren to see how things grow," said Sinicrope, bending over a small plot of land where she tended to peppers and green beans.

Another thing is her sharp sense of civic activism.

Sinicrope has served her time as head of the Dana Shores Civic Association and Dana Shores Women's Club. She has taken a passive role in the women's club but she continues to keep her finger on the pulse of the civic association.

"We need to keep our neighborhood association up and going," Sinicrope said. "If we need it again, we want to be ready."

-- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 269-5308 or ripley@sptimes.com.

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