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Exercise to reflect on Mirror Lake

Published May 2, 2007


They're getting down to business about the Mirror Lake revival.

A planning exercise this weekend will be far from conclusive, but it is a first step in figuring out the future of the city's oldest nonpark recreation area.

Open to the public, the first session is 6 p.m. Friday. Speakers will talk about the area's history and generally acquaint attendees with the neighborhood's flavor.

From 8 a.m. until noon Saturday, the meat of the planning will take place. Phase 1 will identify what's present: the shuffleboard courts, the lawn bowling court, the chess club, for example. Phase 2 will raise ideas about what to do with it all.

The sessions require registration, for which the deadline has passed. But Bob Jeffrey, the city's assistant development services director, said there is room for a few more. Anyone interested should call (727) 893-7207 for a reservation.

Besides shuffleboard, lawn bowling and chess, Mirror Lake offers the Coliseum and the Carnegie library. An even bigger architectural picture would include the old St. Petersburg High School building and the City Hall.

The issues: How do all these pieces fit with one another? How do they fit with the rest of downtown? Should any be changed? Should any stay? Should any go?

Ideas gathered will go to both the city staff and City Council members. The council eventually will make some important decisions.

The Mirror Lake area isn't exactly St. Petersburg's signature geographic element - that would be the waterfront - but it is certainly a flourish underneath.

Postcards and photos, for example, have captured the lake and the backdrop downtown skyline for decades. The shuffleboard club once won worldwide fame and continues to generate widespread publicity, not to mention intergenerational recreation, with its Friday Night Shuffle event. The Coliseum is an icon.

Jeffrey said officials are open to ideas. "Nobody really knows the answer. That's why it's good to get the public together, " he said.

Chris Kelly is a community activist who helped found Pinellas Heritage, a preservation group. One of its projects has been to protect the shuffleboard club. He said he doesn't believe there is a secret agenda underpinning the planning session.

[Last modified May 1, 2007, 20:03:46]

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