Artwork coming to 'Thrill Hill' bridge
By PAUL SWIDER
Published March 5, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - Despite the excitement of zipping over the "Thrill Hill" bridge on Third Street S at Salt Creek, there may soon be reason to slow down as the Old Southeast Neighborhood Association plans to decorate the bridge.
"I've thought about it for years," said Don Bartlett, a former association president managing the project to install public art in the 26 empty recessed panels that face the road on the 1931 bridge. "The place just begs for artwork."
Through a matching $9,460 grant from the city's Neighborhood Partnership grant program, the association plans to install at least six cast reliefs depicting appropriate scenes from the history of the surrounding area.
At its regular meeting Thursday, association members will review sample sketches from Kevin Brady, a St. Petersburg sculptor they selected for the job.
"It's going to look as if it were done in the '30s," said Brady, referring to the art of Work Progress Administration projects from the Depression era.
"We want to transform the bridge and make it look more important, less forgotten."
For years, the bridge has been unremarkable except as a source of glee for those who drive too fast over its elevated hump. It's name, however, comes not from speeding drivers but from the trolley line that used to cross it running south.
Brady said a special car was designed with a short wheelbase to make it over that hill. Legend has it that it was difficult still and passengers were thrilled each time the car crossed. Supposedly children placed pennies on the tracks to make it yet more difficult for the trolley to top the hill.
Brady is working on designs showing flora and fauna, famous buildings and founding fathers, and other distinctive features of the area.
The city will have to approve the designs, but as part of their match for the grant, neighborhood residents will cast the bas reliefs themselves, under Brady's supervision, using reinforced concrete. The neighborhood will be repainting the bridge this spring as well, before installing the art, which is not scheduled to happen until fall.
Bartlett said he is not sure yet how many panels will be added, but the goal is to fill all the spaces in matching sets for each side of the bridge.
The group is hoping neighbors will want to buy replicas of the reliefs for their homes and that those sales might add to the $20,000 budget for further work. Eventually the association hopes to add the four light poles called for in the bridge's original design.
Brady, who is discounting his services because he thinks the project worthy, said he has had great fun in researching the designs. He also finds it apropos, in light of recent developments.
"With St. Pete leaping forward, it's probably not a bad thing to see where we came from," he said.
The next meeting of the Fossil Park Neighborhood Association is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Palm Terrace, 521 69th Avenue N. The meeting topic will the Fossil Park Neighborhood Hurricane Evacuation Plan, being led by Zachary Cornett of Boy Scout Troop 261 for the purpose of obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout. Guest speakers are David MacNamee, emergency management coordinator with Pinellas County, and Chief Robert Ballou, division chief of emergency management, and Fire Chief James Dean Large, both of the St. Petersburg Fire Department.
The Bartlett Park Neighborhood Association will hold its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the NHS Homeownership Center, 1600 MLK St. S.
The Old Southeast Neighborhood Association is having a community meeting to kick off its annual home tour in April. The catered meeting will be at at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at The Studio@620 620 First Ave. S. The meeting will also cover future events and preview artwork for the Thrill Hill Project.
The Broadwater Civic Association will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the 38th Avenue National Guard building.
The Tropical Shores Neighborhood Association will hold its annual neighborhood garage sale from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. March 18 at 22nd Avenue SE and Beach Drive.
Readers wishing to submit information for the Neighborhood Notebook can contact Times staff writer Paul Swider at 892-2271 or by e-mail at email@example.com Neighborhood association presidents who would like to publish their organization's information directly to the Web on their own itsyourtimes.com blog should also contact Paul Swider at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Last modified March 5, 2006, 00:53:19]
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