Trail cleanup leaves residents wanting more

Published April 4, 2007

The Pinellas Trail's path through west St. Petersburg has enjoyed a shave and a haircut the past few weeks, leaving users pleased with the makeover and thinking about further enhancement.

The spring trim involved moving fences, mowing weeds and grass and hauling junk out of ditches that run alongside the trail, said Kathy Swain, the operations manager for Pinellas County's parks and recreation department.

How much junk?

"A significant amount," said Swain, although crews have yet to quantify the haul.

Herb Polson, the City Council member representing the city's western neighborhoods, said he began hearing about the need for a trail cleanup virtually as soon as he took office in December.

"We had some concerns about safety and security and the level of maintenance of the trail," Polson said.

The county is responsible for maintaining the trail, whose main, 34-mile artery uses an old railroad bed from 34th Street S in St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.

The trim took place from 38th Avenue N to Ninth Avenue N and took three weeks, Swain said.

Polson said he has asked the county to take on an overall project that eventually will include about 6 miles between the Wal-Mart store just north of 38th and the 34th Street S trail terminus.

"It's okay with me if they do it in phases," he said.

Said Swain: "The trail is maintained regularly, but the ditches we do basically as needed, more or less annually or as needed."

Polson said the goal is to make the St. Petersburg sections as neat as the strip next to the KOA Kampground in Bay Pines.

The cleanup has prompted talk among residents about further trail enhancement, although there are no plans under way.

Suggestions have included connecting the trail directly to some businesses or creating a user-friendly atmosphere as characterizes the trail's passage through downtown Dunedin.

"I think there's a possibility we can do the same thing," said Steve Plice, a Jungle Terrace resident.

"In Jungle Terrace, the trail runs through retail area from Target and Wal-Mart all the way to (Tyrone Square Mall.)

"It's not as tidy as Dunedin is, but the potential is there to do that," Plice said.