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Bayou Highlands gets its benches, but median stays

Published April 18, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - Residents near Lake Maggiore Boulevard will get their park benches.

Since forming their association three years ago, Bayou Highlands neighbors wanted to take advantage of their lush median, which begins at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, widens after Hyacinth to a basketball court's length at Sixth Street, then tapers gradually to Fifth Street S.

Residents had wanted park benches so people could relax on their walks. Moreover, neighbors wanted the area declared a park in a formal ceremony.

The city has accommodated part of that request with four rectangular spaces and graded dirt in tree-shaded spots: one close to the west end of the boulevard near Fire Station No. 8; one between Hyacinth and Sixth; another between Sixth and Fifth streets; and one by Fifth Street.

But the green space, which runs wider than any other median in the city, according to parks director Clarence Scott, will remain just that - a median. "Part of the confusion was trying to determine whether the median was already designated a park," Scott said.

Old city plats may call the area park land, Scott said. But because development has made a different use of the land, parks officials decided to stay away from park designation, which would require City Council approval. They already had precedent for putting benches on city medians without calling them parks.

Before benches could be installed, residents needed a majority of adjacent property owners to sign off. They went door to door, coming away with 35 Lake Maggiore Boulevard residents in favor of the benches, and five opposed.

The three-year-old association has about 30 paid members out of 530 homes from Fourth to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street between 46th and 54th avenues S. A yard sale May 1, 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. in the median (or is that park?), will raise more money for the group. Tables run $10 a space for residents, but that also pays off association dues for the year, normally $15.

The sale activity will start at the midpoint of Lake Maggiore Boulevard, around Sixth Street, and spread out to the sides, said association president Mary Darling. Police and fire representatives plan to show up. The neighbors have arranged for face painting and a moonwalk for children. Hot dogs and chips will be available for donations.

Bayou Highlands meets Thursday at 7 p.m. (6:30 p.m. social) at the Skyway Resource Center, 1065 62nd Ave. S. The topic: "Ways to improve our neighborhood."

* * *

Another small neighborhood association meets this week to plan a fundraiser in May. The Harris Park neighborhood runs from Interstate 275 to 16th Street N, Haines Road to 38th Avenue N. The association does not collect dues and considers all of its 650 households members. A small newsletter pays for itself with advertising.

"It's a lot of work if you want to do it right," said Harris Park president Paul Runge, 39, who took over in August after the previous president resigned.

Association meetings typically draw about 25-30 people, Runge said. The group is working on a grant request for decorative lighting.

Harris Park will meet Monday at 7:30 p.m., at the Vietnamese Alliance Church, 4344 21st St. N. The fundraiser is scheduled for noon-4 p.m. May 22, at Kiwanis Park on 38th Avenue N between 18th and 19th streets. It will include food - hamburgers, hot dogs, and so on - and entertainment.

* * *

Jungle Terrace Civic Association turns 50 this month. The association, whose boundaries run from 22nd to 40th Avenue N between 66th Street and Boca Ciega Bay, has represented its 600 paid members and 2,300 homes aggressively on development issues.

"I would say we're one of the top five most active (neighborhood associations) in the city," Jungle Terrace president Tom Killian said. The association was founded in April 1954, making it one of the city's oldest.

Past presidents Les Kasper, Dr. Ed Carlson, Steve Plice, and Richard Meredith will be recognized. Mayor Rick Baker will read a proclamation. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Walter Fuller Recreation Center, 7891 26th Ave. N. The social gathering begins at 6:30 p.m., with refreshments supplied by Rib City.

[Last modified April 18, 2004, 01:35:47]

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