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Opinions vary on closing street near Sunken Gardens

Part of 18th Avenue N might be closed from Fourth Street access. Some on 20th Avenue N want the same.

By ANDREW MEACHAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Neighbors of Sunken Gardens are hoping the city will protect their quiet brick streets from heavy traffic. Despite a light turnout Monday at a public forum sponsored by the North Shore Neighborhood Association, concerns are on the rise about the indirect consequences of the expansion of the tourist attraction at 1825 Fourth St. N.

The North Shore president guessed that only 30 to 35 people came to the Sunshine Center to discuss Sunken Gardens' interest in closing off part of 18th Avenue N to enlarge its parking capacity. Residents along 18th Avenue N tend to favor the plan, but it makes others uneasy, Susan Rebillot said.

"My sense is that the North Shore neighborhood really supports Sunken Gardens' restoration and success," she said. "We want to see them do well. But we do have questions and concerns about vacating parts of avenues."

Just to the north, Penny Flaherty has collected 30 signatures from neighbors along 20th Avenue N who would like their Fourth Street access closed off as well. The expansion of the Sunken Gardens property to include a hands-on museum and retail will bring an "onslaught" of service vehicles to or from Fourth Street, said Flaherty, 55.

"I've had 16-wheelers parked in front of my house," said Flaherty, who lives with her husband, Richard, at 217 20th Ave. N. "The last one stayed for 24 hours."

The neighbors would like to create a dead end just east of Fourth Street, where they hope to route the bulk of business traffic.

Angelo Rao, assistant engineering director for the city's Engineering, Stormwater and Transportation Department, said he learned of the 20th Avenue N residents and their petition only late Thursday. The department is investigating its options, Rao said.

Palmetto Park seeks vegetable garden

Backed by a grant from Front Porch Florida, the Palmetto Park Neighborhood Association hopes to grow enough vegetables to help its elderly residents. A group of volunteers, including neighborhood youths, will cultivate up to a dozen patches of ground about 8 by 12 feet each, said president Lurlis Simmons, 70.

If the city approves the plan, the $3,000 grant will be used to put a well, pump and sprinkler system on city property at 2519 Third Ave. S.

"We're going to try tomatoes, corn, okra, maybe lettuce -- a little bit of everything," Simmons said. He said he had been reading agriculture books from the University of Florida, and that with any luck could start planting in April.

Computer training in Bartlett Park

The Police Department has expanded a computer training program for volunteers to all Bartlett Park residents. The six-week course meets from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Thursdays, and has already met once. It is full, so any additions would have to get on a waiting list, said police volunteer coordinator Gwen Fleming.

The introduction to word processing is free and aimed at seniors in particular, Fleming said. There will be another class, but its times and dates have not been decided. Interested people can call Fleming at 892-5039 or the Bartlett Park Resource Center at 826-9774.

Baker, Ford to hash it out Monday

Northeast Park is sponsoring a debate at 7:30 p.m. Monday between mayoral candidates Rick Baker and Kathleen Ford. The site is the Masonic Home, 3201 First St. NE. The League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area will moderate the debate.

Meetings

CAMPBELL PARK: 7 p.m. Wednesday. Campbell Park Recreation Center, 601 14th St. S. Candidates forum.

CHILDS PARK: 7 p.m. Monday. Childs Park Recreation Center, 4301 13th Ave.S.

CRESCENT LAKE: 7 p.m. Thursday. Huggins-Stengel clubhouse, 1320 Fifth St. N. Proposals for the former Bradford Coach House property, 1900 Fourth St. N.

DISSTON HEIGHTS: 7 p.m. Tuesday. Gladden Park Recreation Center, 3901 30th Ave. N.

EAGLE CREST: 7 p.m. Tuesday. St. Petersburg Catholic High School, cafeteria or media center.

EDGEMOOR: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Faith Covenant Church, 150 62nd Ave. NE.

HARBORDALE: 6 p.m. Monday. Trinity United Methodist Church, 2401 Fifth St. S. Officer Bob Jones on traffic issues.

LAKE EUCLID CRIME WATCH: 7 p.m. Monday. Norwood Baptist Church, 1818 29th Ave. N.

LAKEWOOD TERRACE: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Lake Maggiore Baptist Church, 4100 Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) St. S. Neighborhood plan.

MAGNOLIA HEIGHTS: 7 p.m. Thursday. Woodlawn Presbyterian Church, 2612 12th St. N. Water restrictions.

MEL-TAN HEIGHTS: 6 p.m. Tuesday. Bristol Temple Church, 2901 18th Ave. S.

MELROSE MERCY/PINE ACRES: 7 p.m. Tuesday. 20th Street Church of Christ, 820 20th St. S. Concerns about Front Porch Florida.

NORTH KENWOOD: 7:30 p.m. Monday. Edward White Hospital auditorium, 2323 Ninth Ave. N. Michelle Robinson, Tampa Bay Water.

PALMETTO PARK: 7 p.m. Tuesday. Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, 4000 Fifth Ave. S. Candidates forum, plans for garden program.

PONCE DE LEON: on0 7 p.m. Thursday. Gladden Park Recreation Center, 3901 30th Ave. N. Neighborhood plan.

TROPICAL SHORES: 7 p.m. Tuesday. Polish American Society, 1343 Beach Drive SE.

WOODLAWN OAKS: 7 p.m. Tuesday. D&J's Cafe, 2050 15th St. N.

FOURTH STREET BUSINESS: 6 p.m. Wednesday. Keystone Club, 320 Fourth St. N.

MLK (NINTH) STREET BUSINESS: 8 a.m. Wednesday. St. Petersburg Housing Services, 1640 Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) St. S. Candidates forum.

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