The results are in: Northeast St. Petersburg residents want a YMCA
Last fall, the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg shared with the Pinellas County School Board its vision for the empty 15-acre lot where Riviera Middle once stood: turn it into a joint-use facility with a YMCA and a school.
The YMCA promised to conduct a survey to gauge interest in the areas surrounding 62nd Avenue Northeast and Pershing Street Northeast for a YMCA facility, and the results are in: 88 percent perceived the YMCA as an important resource for improving the health and well-being of the community, 82 percent found practicing physical activity, healthy eating and building good character among youth to be of the most importance, and nearly half of the respondents said they were dissatisfied with the availability of non-athletic programs that draw out youth skills, creativity and confidence. When respondents were asked what the most pressing need in the community is for youth, the word most commonly used was "safe."
Although the YMCA and the school district both say there is no current plan to build another school or YMCA facility, the two groups are in discussions and the YMCA hopes to participate in a School Board workshop this fall to review potential lease options. The survey never asked participants about their interest in building a school, however 70 percent of respondents living in the Old Northeast and Snell Isle neighborhoods ranked youth exiting high school with college or career readiness skills as their top concern.
Between May and July, 408 people responded to the YMCA's online survey, however the demographics of those who participated in the survey are skewed: 88 percent of those who took the surveyed identified as white and mostly female, 70 percent were already members of the YMCA, and most were between the ages of 35 and 44 with a household income of $75,000 to $150,000. The majority of survey-takers live with children and are in the Shore Acres zip code, which stretches west across Fourth Street N.
Read the executive report which breaks down the results by neighborhood here.
After Riviera Middle closed in 2008, many students were redirected to Meadowlawn Middle, which district superintendent Mike Grego described as overcrowded, explaining that the area needs a middle school option.