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Brick paths will give reason to gaze down

Personalized pavers downtown are part of the Treasure Island streetscape renovations due to begin in March.

By KATHY SAUNDERS

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


TREASURE ISLAND -- For $50, residents and business owners can make their mark downtown.

Members of the Hotel/Motel Association of Treasure Island are selling 8-inch bricks that can be inscribed with a message or perhaps the name of a loved one and embedded permanently in the new walkways through downtown.

The pavers will be part of the streetscape renovations scheduled to begin in March, when 107th/Central Avenue is reconfigured.

City commissioners on Tuesday are expected to approve a $596,000 bid from Valley Crest contractors to redesign the street, install about 12,000 red and yellow brick pavers throughout the area and landscape the medians. The bids include new irrigation and lighting systems, 10 large Medjool date palms and hundreds of other plants, as well as benches, bike racks and trash bins.

In their first televised meeting, commissioners last week gave tentative approval to the redevelopment project and the sale of 250 to 500 memorial pavers.

So far, the hotel/motel association has sold 110 bricks, said president Charles Weisgerber. Each brick can be inscribed with up to six lines, with a maximum 20 characters per line, including spaces.

The memorials are twice the size of the other pavers planned for the walkways. To limit the possibility of a person or business using the bricks for advertising, the pavers will not be laid side by side. Businesses and families are limited to four bricks each.

"I know some entrepreneurs here in town that would probably like to buy the whole sidewalk," said Commissioner Butch Ellsworth.

Most of the buyers to date have asked to put their names on the bricks.

"Let's face it, we all want to be remembered," said Weisgerber, who plans to honor his two Siamese cats, Ham and Lonnie.

The association board and the city will have the last word on the content of the inscriptions.

"I do have some concerns about the type of advertising that would be allowed there," said City Attorney Jim Denhardt.

Money raised from the sale of the bricks will be donated to community organizations or projects, Weisgerber said.

"It might go to the civic associations, or maybe the remodeled Community Center might need a few extra pots and pans," he said.

The bricks can be purchased through many of the 45 members of the association and downtown at Island Movies & More, 139 107th Ave.

At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, city commissioners also will view a presentation for a community icon: a clock tower in the center of the median to serve as a focal point for the district as well as a gathering place for pedestrians.

The tower, designed by architects Enrique Woodroffe and Phil Graham to resemble the top of the new Treasure Island Beach Center, has elicited some opposition.

Sunset Beach activist Heidi Horak is waging an e-mail campaign among residents, saying the tower doesn't look good and is unnecessary.

"It looks a little bit like a jail watchtower -- it's not very friendly," resident Carl Ystrom told commissioners last week.

Commissioners also will have a 10 a.m. workshop Tuesday to discuss some of the details of their new cablecasting venture, which currently is being operated by volunteers from the Treasure Island Voter's Watch.

Both meetings are open to the public at City Hall, 120 108th Ave., or can be watched on Time Warner cable's Channel 15.

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