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Curbside parking could help cathedral

By SHARON L. BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Allowing parking along Fourth Street between First and Third avenues N after morning rush hour could help ease the parking crunch of the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, which wants to tear down the former First Baptist Church to build a parking lot.

Philip L. Oropesa, parking manager for the city of St. Petersburg, said his office is preparing a request to the Florida Department of Transportation to allow two-hour parking after 9 a.m. on that stretch of Fourth Street N.

Fourth Street N is a state road, and currently no parking is allowed on it between First and Third avenues N. It runs in front of the cathedral at 140 Fourth St. N.

"The volume there is between 6 and 9 a.m.," Oropesa said. Evening rush hour traffic would not be a concern because Fourth Street is a one way road running south in the downtown area.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, parking officials monitored traffic flow in the cathedral area. They now are analyzing it before sending the state a proposal.

Oropesa said 26 to 34 spaces could be created. They would not be limited to cathedral use but would be available to the general public.

The spaces would not solve St. Peter's parking problems completely, but "it's something we could do rather quickly," Oropesa said.

St. Peter's applied to tear down the vacant First Baptist Church and build a parking lot that would have 43 spaces. Its application was denied by the Historic Preservation Commission.

St. Peter's said gaining more spaces is vital to its continued existence downtown. Older parishioners sometimes do not attend daytime meetings or services during the week because they cannot find parking, cathedral officials said.

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