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By ANDREW MEACHAM
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- Proponents of a Shore Acres traffic-calming plan that was rejected in a neighborhood vote have turned to the city for help.
"Something has to be done," said traffic committee chairwoman Theresa Gay. "It's unfair for us to live with 70-mile-per-hour cars."
The losers of neighborhood association decisions can appeal to the City Council within 10 days.
Council member Bill Foster said he is studying the request to amend the traffic-calming plan, which Engineering, Stormwater and Transportation director Michael Connors originally had estimated at about $900,000.
Gay's appeal included a proposal to limit speed humps or similar devices to Shore Acres Boulevard, Overlook Drive, Tanglewood Drive, Venetian Boulevard and Connecticut Avenue -- where nearly half of the neighborhood's 148 traffic accidents occurred last year. Foster said he would study the appeal with Connors and neighborhood transportation director Michael Frederick, "to see what we can implement with the dollars we hope to have next year."
"Most people realize, yeah, we have a speeding problem in Shore Acres," Foster said. "I don't think the vote was a rejection of any and all traffic calming."
Among the options Foster discussed with neighbors at the association meeting Monday were speed humps that can be traversed at 30 mph, as opposed to the more conventional humps that require a slowdown to 15 mph.
There was opposition.
"Personally, I would not have a problem with a few well-designed speed humps in problem areas, driveable at 30 miles per hour," said software engineer Tim Dolan, who voted against the plan. "But I don't feel our community will be too accepting as a whole."
Community police Officer Jason Deary told residents they can expect police to employ stronger measures to curb speeding, including placing officers in unmarked cars. Police sometimes go to unmarked cars when conventional methods have failed, Deary said.
"If people who live in an area become aware of speed traps, they will try to circumvent them," he said.
Foster also assured Shore Acres neighbors that he would monitor the progress at fire station 12, the reconstruction of which has been delayed more than a year.
Past association president Debbie Kraus raised concerns about the plan's chances of surviving a new mayor and five new council seats. The station at 1651 Bayou Grande Blvd. currently operates out of a converted house. The city bought the adjoining lot and will build a new station on the combined property, said Robert Ballou, division chief of administration. The house the station uses will be moved.
The project was set to break ground in November 2000, but Ballou now estimates construction will begin in February 2002. The delays can be attributed largely to obstacles presented by limited space. Ballou said that firefighters prefer to have "drive-through" capability for their trucks, but they'll have to settle for backing into Station 12.
Foster said he believes funding for the new fire station is secure. But new administrations are not bound to follow the plans of their predecessors, so there is reason for caution.
"Until the slab is laid and the monies are in place, they can mothball any project," Foster said. "I don't believe that's going to happen."
Fossil Park neighbors are soliciting funds for their lawsuit against owners of the Park Motel, claiming the business violates public nuisance statutes.
President Jerry Woolridge said the association sent letters to 52 businesses adjoining Fossil Park along Fourth Street N. He and Karen Mullins pitched their case on Wednesday to the Fourth Street Business Association.
The neighborhood is alleging that the Park's owners at 6638 Fourth St. N have turned a blind eye to drug sales and prostitution on the premises. Park owner Jayesh Patel has denied the charges.
Fossil Park members also passed on a proposal by neighbors in the Gateway area to merge associations. Gateway is at least as large as Fossil Park but lacks the membership support. At Tuesday's meeting, Woolridge raised the issue of joining associations but did not call for a vote. No one spoke in favor of the idea.
"When I first heard about that I thought, "Boy, we've got to jump on that,' " Howard Elkins said. He later decided that expanding the association's borders would weaken it.
Gateway president Chuck Sanger said he bore no hard feelings about Fossil Park's response to what he said was just a suggestion on behalf of Gateway members -- that "in case we fold, they have a place to go."
North Shore residents have a chance Wednesday to weigh in on a city proposal to expand parking space at Sunken Gardens. Leisure services architect Raul Quintana will lay out a plan to join parking lots on the north and south sides of 18th Avenue N. That would create a dead end for westbound travelers on 18th Avenue N at Third Street. Wednesday's meeting is at 7 p.m., at 233 Third St. N.
EUCLID HEIGHTS: 7 p.m. Tuesday. First Alliance Church, 5000 10th St. N. Roberts Community Center director Trish Hope.
EUCLID-ST. PAUL: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. St. Paul's school cafeteria, 1900 12th St. N. Cory Adler, executive director, Pinellas Habitat for Humanity.
GATEWAY: 7:30 p.m. Monday. St. James United Methodist Church library, 845 87th Ave. N. Candidates forum.
HISTORIC KENWOOD: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Albright United Methodist Church, 2750 Fifth Ave. N. Candidates forum.
NORTH DOWNTOWN: 7 p.m. Thursday. The Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. N. Candidates forum.
SNELL ISLE: 7 p.m. Thursday. St. Petersburg Woman's Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd.