Al Lang debate takes new turn
ST. PETERSBURG -- A 15-month effort to preserve Al Lang Field as a waterfront park took a new twist today when the City Council debated whether it should rezone the park but not limit height restrictions at the historic stadium.
City Council members Wengay Newton and Bill Dudley said they would support rezoning the park, but that any decisions on height restrictions should be left to voters.
"This land is the most protected piece of land that I think we have in the city," Newton said. "I do not see why we are circumventing the will of the voters by screwing with the height."
Dudley said voters are intelligent enough to vote against any development they dislike. Setting a height restriction "limits possibilities down the road, and why should we make that decision?" he said.
The debate to rezone Al Lang has been mostly symbolic. The city requires voters to approve any long-term private development along the waterfront. Rezoning the park does not change that. Rezoning the park also won't prohibit the council from redeveloping Al Lang for public use.
But a height restriction would limit what could be built there.
Al Lang is the only downtown park that allows development up to 300 feet tall. The other parks were limited to 50 feet in August 2007.
Changing the height limit at Al Lang Field would merely bring the site in line with the other downtown parks, said council member Herb Polson.
Council member Karl Nurse said he also supports height restrictions.
"It's really about how high are we going to allow a building on the waterfront?" Nurse said. "To rezone it and leave it 300 feet makes a mockery of the parkland."
Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer