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About a dozen people join a cleanup organized by Weed and Seed, one of the groups trying to refurbish the area.
By JON WILSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 13, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- Sometimes a half-block at a time, the quest to restore 22nd Street S continues.
City, state and federal planners have targeted the historic thoroughfare. A half-dozen programs are in place to improve housing, lure businesses and add small touches -- street lights, for example -- to make the old neighborhood look better.
But the tenacity of people who care about the street may one day make the most difference.
Saturday, about a dozen gathered to do chores. Brushes, rollers, rakes and plastic bags were their tools; painting and clearing trash their jobs.
It was part of a Weed and Seed neighborhood restoration effort, and it was the third time the work had been scheduled.
Hurricane Gordon postponed it in mid September, and another rainy Saturday a few weeks later washed it out a second time.
"I thought I better wait until hurricane season ended," said Janis Ford, Weed and Seed coordinator.
Annette Howard is president of 22nd Street Redevelopment Inc., which is seeking, among other things, a state Main Street designation that would provide neighborhood make-over expertise.
The day before, Howard had tripped and fallen while getting into her car. Ignoring sore ribs on Saturday, she helped paint an empty building on the 1000 block of 22nd Street.
"If (Weed and Seed) is coming over to do some things, it's no more than right for us to collaborate," Howard said.
Howard no longer lives on 22nd Street, but did for 42 years. She also owned a restaurant on the street, and still comes to the corridor to tend streetside flower beds.
Weed and Seed is known as a federal anti-drug program but also plays a role in general neighborhood improvement, Ford said.
She cited a long-term project that takes in a city swath between 31st and 37th streets, running from Central Avenue to 54th Avenue S. Weed and Seed hopes to address codes violations, boarded buildings and untended vacant lots, Ford said..
"In the meantime, we're also doing smaller things" such as the 22nd Street paint day, she said.
Weed and Seed is also sponsoring a Dec. 22 fashion show at the Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S. The show features outfits that about eight women have made in the Weed and Seed sewing circle. For information, call 893-9841.
While the 22nd Street squad labored, a city crew was scheduled to weed and edge a section of 18th Avenue S, Ford said. And a city Neighborhood Team earlier had painted a house behind the building that got a new coat Saturday.
Howard said there are plans to bring an occasional air of festivity to the street, which these days is quiet compared with years past, when it was the African-American community's major business and cultural corridor.
Just west of the street, the demolition of the Jordan Park housing project has left a vacant field, pending construction of the new Hope VI project.
But businesses remain on 22nd Street. They are being asked to put up strings of seasonal holiday lights, Howard said. There is talk of reviving an Easter parade, which Howard said once was a tradition in the community.
Saturday, most of the painting was finished by noon. And one more building showed a brighter face.