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Two community leaders say old bathhouse should be saved

A group wants to lease the building next to McLin swimming pool.

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- A mayoral candidate and a civil rights leader Wednesday joined a campaign to stop the city-planned demolition of a building residents want for a neighborhood center.

The neighborhood wants to lease from the city a bathhouse next to the McLin swimming pool at 602 14th St. S.

But city officials say the building in Campbell Park needs expensive repairs and is scheduled to be torn down.

Mayoral hopeful Omali Yeshitela, speaking at a news conference at the bathhouse, called on city government to save the building and asked the city's 100 neighborhood groups to rally behind the Campbell Park Neighborhood Association.

"This is terrible disregard for people living in the so-called Challenge area," Yeshitela said. "If the people of the city knew what was going on, they would respond."

City Administrator Tish Elston said demolition makes economic sense. "Unfortunately, it's a tough decision that has to be made, but I think the path we're on is the right decision," Elston said.

Association president Iveta Martin Berry said the organization has tried for several years to get the building, currently used for storage, so it could be used for a variety of neighborhood activities.

Berry said the bathhouse's situation is similar to that of a small Crescent Lake Park building the city is considering for preservation. Sevell Brown, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's local chapter, also appeared at the news conference. He said Mayor David Fischer promised to listen to people in the Challenge area, but now is "turning a deaf ear."

- Correspondent Andrew Meacham contributed to this report.

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