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Fossil Park will add field, convert one into park use


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- Years of tension between a neighborhood association and a youth baseball organization have given way to a tentative compromise in Fossil Park.

The neighborhood association, in a 16-8 vote, agreed to a joint plan with Fossil Park Youth Baseball organizers to put in one new field and return another field to park use.

The proposal caps recent years of rejected offers and disagreement between the two parties. The apparent compromise also coincides with the city's already budgeted plan to relocate a concession stand within the park and make the adjoining restrooms handicapped-accessible.

While both sides are hailing the first settlement between Fossil Park neighbors and baseball in years, some residents remain unhappy. They are concerned about trees, traffic, lighting and the overall character of the park and say they cannot afford to lose any more shade.

Cheryl Bullock, a nurse who lives across Atwood Avenue, the park's southern border east of Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street, said she attended the meeting not knowing a vote would be taken on a new field. She plans to circulate a petition opposing the plan, which will vacate the unfenced T-ball field along Atwood and build a multipurpose field close to the swimming pool, on the site of the existing concession stand.

"They say, "We're going to put trees here,' " she said, gesturing to the small T-ball diamond. "Well, I'm not going to be alive to see them full-grown. My grandchildren, maybe."

Fossil Park has three other baseball diamonds, all fenced and lighted, to accommodate some 600 baseball players ages 9 to 18. After residents rebuffed earlier proposals by baseball organizers to light the T-ball field, or to build two more fields, the two sides settled on a multi-purpose field with adjustable base paths for baseball or T-ball.

The new field would be within walking distance of the parking lot north of Fire Station No. 7, 6975 70th Ave. N -- a location, proponents said, that reduce traffic congestion. With the existing T-ball field, drivers tend to park along Atwood and cross a foot bridge adjacent to the field.

Land surveyors hired by the city tagged more than 30 trees last week as being in the general vicinity of the proposed field. Some advocates of the field have countered residents' concerns about pine trees being cut down with a diagnosis: The trees are blighted and most will die anyway.

"I guess it's common knowledge that it's a matter of time before most of them will be gone," said Mike Rees, an investment counselor who serves as treasurer for Florida Little Major Leagues. Rees said he had heard about the trees' condition from someone in the parks department.

Association members had discussed hiring an arborist for consultation on the condition of the trees -- which trees would have to be removed and which could be moved elsewhere -- said Tina Boveing, a Fossil Park area resident who served on a joint committee that produced the plan.

Leisure Services administrator Lee Metzger said he was unaware of any diseased trees in or near the proposed field.

Any new field is still a year or two away, Metzger said. Such a plan would require careful analysis by the city, and would not happen without consulting area residents.

'Squeaky' diplomat lands Edgemoor calming devices] Speeding soccer moms bothered Deanne Kimmitt so much, she nearly picked up and moved.

Instead, she picked up a telephone.

As a result, her Edgemoor neighborhood has two of more than a dozen traffic calming devices installed several months ahead of schedule. So Kimmitt, 31 -- dubbed "the Tin Man" by neighbors for her squeaky-wheel diplomacy -- will stay, along with husband Allen, their 16-month-old daughter, Victoria, and Barney, a 5-year-old Bassett hound mix whose odds of seeing 6 or 7 or 8 are improving by the week.

This past school year, she played a strong role in the Edgemoor Neighborhood Association's attempts to slow down or re-route traffic in and out of Canterbury School. But parents have proved almost as likely to speed as teenagers, whether they are coming from the school or Jack Puryear Park, which lies across the street from the Kimmitts.

"People are on their cell phones, yelling at their kids and doing 40 miles an hour," Deanne Kimmitt said during the weeks before the city took action.

At one point, the couple considered moving to Tarpon Springs.

"It was either they put up speed humps, get rid of soccer, or we move," Kimmitt said.

A solution appeared forthcoming until the city's Traffic and Transportation Department turned traffic calming projects over to Engineering and Stormwater. That move, coupled with budgeting restrictions, resulted in a six-month delay.

City officials told Kimmitt that Edgemoor would get its humps, bumps, speed plateaus and raised intersections, but that it would not happen before January 2001.

Kimmitt made up a short telephone list and campaigned for the date to be moved up for safety reasons. Without traffic calming, she argued, 58th, Davison and Hampton avenues would remain straightaways tempting visitors looking for a quick way in or out. She talked about dogs and cats being hit, and children playing in their yards.

"She got it done," said City Council member Bill Foster, who was impressed enough to publicly halt support for any further improvements to Puryear Park until Edgemoor had traffic calming.

Kimmitt said she eventually received two telephone calls from Mayor David Fischer, the second call assuring her that all traffic calming devices in Edgemoor would be in place by October. The speed-reducing devices mirror a recently passed city ordinance limiting residential traffic to 25 mph.

Meeting to discuss Front Porch Florida] The Melrose Mercy/Pine Acres Neighborhood Association has called a special meeting for all neighborhoods targeted for Front Porch Florida funding to discuss that program's leadership. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, 20th Street Church of Christ, 825 20th St. S.

Got some big garbage? Pick-up scheduled] Curbside or alley pick-ups for furniture, carpet or appliances in the Central Oak Park neighborhood are scheduled for tomorrow for anyone living between First Avenue N and Fifth Avenue S, between 34th and 49th streets.


CAUSEWAY ISLES: 7 p.m. Monday, Pasadena Community Church, 112 70th St. S, Hamilton Hall. Speaker: County Commission candidate Brent Fisher, District 7. Topic: Traffic.

HISTORIC KENWOOD: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Albright United Methodist Church, 2750 Fifth Ave. N. Open forum.

SNELL ISLE: 7 p.m. Thursday, Snell Isle Woman's Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd. Speaker: Tax Collector Fred Petty.

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