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Neighborhood notebook

Developers' property to stay in historic district

By RON MATUS and BABITA PERSAUD
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 22, 2003

HYDE PARK - Developers of a planned highrise on Bayshore Boulevard have decided to withdraw their request to redraw historic lines in Hyde Park.

Citivest Corp. wanted to remove its 1.1-acre site from the historic district in order to build its 24-story condominium on the corner of Bayshore and DeSoto Avenue.

But before the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on Aug. 12, Citivest's attorney, John Grandoff, withdrew its petition, said Annie Hart, commission administrator.

Grandoff said Citivest will work instead with the Architectural Review Commission. He had planned to submit revised drawings for the building on Wednesday. The public will have an opportunity to comment on those plans on Sept. 10. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd.

Residents angry over Lindell decision

SOUTH TAMPA - Neighborhood leaders are sharply criticizing four City Council members who voted for an off-site parking lot near Kennedy Boulevard in June.

Council voted 4-3 to support Lindell Motors' request for a lot on S Malcolm Court that will provide parking for Lindell employees. The .7-acre lot will be covered with a base material that allows grass to grow.

Opponents have said they don't want a commercial use intruding into their neighborhood. At last week's meeting of Tampa Homeowners, an Association of Neighborhoods, several members said they would remember the vote at election time.

"We've all heard the slogan: Remember Pearl Harbor," said Wofford Johnson, president of the Sunset Park Area Homeowners Association. In this case, he said, it's "Remember Lindell Motors."

Council members John Dingfelder, Linda Saul-Sena and Rose Ferlita voted against the plan. Shawn Harrison, Kevin White, Gwen Miller and Mary Alvarez, who represents the area that includes Lindell, voted for it.

Psychic's church gets new lawyer

HYDE PARK - The obscure church that is suing the family of its late pastor in a property battle is apparently switching lawyers.

On July 18, the Lighthouse of Truth Church filed a suit in Hillsborough circuit court, laying claim to property that the Rev. William L. Lamb bought around the Watrous Avenue church in the 1960s and 1970s.

Lamb, a reputed psychic, died in February and did not leave a will. His seven brothers and sisters say the land, now valued at nearly $1-million, belongs to them.

The July 18 suit was signed by Mark Howard of the Carlton Fields law firm in Tampa, but a subsequent court document was filed by another Tampa attorney, Leroy H. Merkle Jr.

Howard declined to comment. Merkle did not return repeated phone calls.

Police reassure neighbors after altering program

TAMPA - Tampa police last week sought to reassure neighborhood leaders who are nervous about changes to the popular community-oriented policing program known as "firehouse cops."

The Tampa Police Department recently altered the program in District 2, which covers much of East Tampa, said Deputy Chief Scott Cunningham in a presentation to Tampa Homeowners, an Association of Neighborhoods. If the changes are effective, they'll be implemented in the rest of the city, including South Tampa.

Under the program, firehouse cops - so called because the areas they cover correspond with city fire districts - are assigned to neighborhoods where they meet regularly with residents and can be reached directly by cellular phone. They do not patrol or respond to most dispatch calls.

TPD wants to change the program so there are more officers working more hours in neighborhoods but no longer one specific cop on the beat, Cunningham said. There will also be more officers trained in community-oriented techniques.

Cunningham acknowledged the changes have made some neighborhoods nervous but said the proposal is not written in stone. "If it starts going south, we'll pull the plug," he said.

The department plans to get public feedback in the fall.

Ground is broken for playground for disabled

MACFARLANE PARK - Freedom Playground continued to make strides Saturday, with a groundbreaking ceremony that included Mayor Pam Iorio and more than 50 other supporters.

The proposed playground will include wheelchair-accessible ramps, cushioned flooring and other amenities so children with disabilities can play with their non-disabled peers. It's slated for MacFarlane Park on MacDill Avenue north of Interstate 275.

So far, organizers have raised nearly $50,000 in private donations, and the city has chipped in another $80,000, said Stefani Busansky, a New Suburb Beautiful resident who is leading the effort. They need at least $300,000.

Construction is set to begin in six to eight months.

Donations made out to Freedom Playground Foundation can be sent to Busansky's house, 2425 Prospect Road, Tampa, FL 33629.

Bacteria off beach no longer a problem

DAVIS ISLANDS - It's okay to go swimming again.

Health officials removed warning signs for swimmers last week at the beach next to the Seaplane Basin.

The signs were posted Aug. 11 after sewage spilled into a canal 2 miles away and tests showed high levels of potentially harmful bacteria in the water near the beach.

Follow-up tests on Aug. 13 showed the bacteria had dropped to satisfactory levels.

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