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Of garbage enclosures, trucks and ball fields

By ANNE LINDBERG

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001


PINELLAS PARK -- Put 50 people on a couple of trolleys for a tour of the city and the results can be entertaining and educational. Here are several vignettes from Saturday's bus ride.

* * *

"This is state of the art, probably the best, most recent garbage enclosure in the city," Rick Butler said of the Dumpster enclosure at the library, 7770 52nd St. N. But the concrete block wall that hides the Dumpster also provides refuge for the homeless to sleep. Once they're inside the enclosures, police can't see them. Said Butler: "There's nothing uglier than seeing a transient crawling behind the masonry ... puking his guts out."

* * *

As the trolley pulls behind the 7-Eleven at Park and 52nd, there are cries of "Ice cream!" and "Is this a potty break?"

* * *

In the 5700 block of 77th Avenue, Butler points out pickup trucks, with and without advertising on their sides, and asks the riders: Which are commercial vehicles? The question jump-starts a discussion among council members that lasts the entire trip.

It became clear that council members are unclear about: a) the current ordinance concerning the parking of commercial vehicles in residential areas and b) what a revised ordinance should cover.

Part of the discussion centers on the word "altered." If a vehicle is "altered" to make it a commercial vehicle, then it might be banned. But is a paint job an "alteration"? "We've never discussed that," said one council member.

Butler later directed riders' attention to a truck with an attachment for carrying a ladder. Commercial vehicle? One council member says yes. Another city official shakes his head no.

Butler: "This is an example of how complicated the issues are."

The trolley passes a Florida Highway Patrol car parked in a driveway. Commercial? One council member believes yes, under Pinellas Park's rules, and should not be parked there. But one resident comments, "That's okay. That's okay."

* * *

Youth Park, 3750 66th Ave. N, has one of the best soccer fields in Florida and state-of-the-art ball fields, yet few tournaments are held there, Butler says. The reason, he says, is that the neighborhood is run-down and does not give a "good feeling" to parents who want to drop their kids off at the park.

The city needs to take the lead and provide some fixes, Butler says, because "if we do it, there's a good chance the neighbors will do it."

* * *

The small neighborhood around 57th Way and 98th Terrace N is holding a yard sale. With cars parked on both sides of the street, the trolley is too large to get through. A neighbor runs to move his SUV. One of the yard sale folks takes advantage of the pause to hawk hot dogs, sodas and other paraphernalia. Another takes a picture of the trolleys. Butler takes advantage of the situation: "Folks, we can't get through here. Imagine if you're a fire truck."

* * *

Crossing Belcher Road on the way back to City Hall, someone asks where the city ends and the county begins. Mayor Bill Mischler advises riders to look at the street signs. If they're green, you're in the county. If they're blue, you're in Pinellas Park.

Someone else asks, "What if they're rusty?"

"Rusty signs are Largo," council member Chuck Williams answers.

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