Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A year later, Mango Circle children still without playground


A couple of boys engaged in a fierce sword fight in the middle of the street Thursday afternoon. Though their swords were mere sticks, the intensity of the jostling and play-fighting wasn't diminished.

Around the bend, another group of children played in their front yard.

The children who live in Tarpon Springs' Mango Circle used to have a playground. But it was removed about a year ago after an inspection found the equipment badly rusted and corroded with traces of lead paint on the equipment.

Residents thought the playground was going to be replaced. They say it's needed.

"These kids need something to do and a playground would be easy," said Dora Atkins, a Mango Circle resident. "Playing in the street, a playground would eliminate that."

Pat Weber, the executive director of the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority, refused to replace the playground equipment because of plans to raze the 60-unit Mango Circle and replace it with new, up-to-date complex. A new playground would be put in then, Weber said.

But the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority recently learned it did not receive the federal tax credit needed to tear down Mango Circle, which was built in 1973. Weber said she plans to reapply for the credit in December.

That means several more years without a playground.

"We can't wait two and three years and not do something about a playground," said Linda Herring, the Housing Authority's board chairwoman. "The board is going to make the right decision, but we have got to have something, especially with the summer months coming up."

The Housing Authority board is scheduled to discuss the issue at its next meeting this month.

Mango Circle came into focus last April after a St. Petersburg Times story described the rundown conditions of the complex's playground.

A National Playground and Park Association inspector delivered a scathing report that said the site was unsafe for children.

Carmen Wilson, a Tarpon Springs Housing Authority commissioner, is still concerned about the lack of maintenance with the previous playground equipment and that residents were reluctant to report it.

"I understand budget priorities, but poor or no maintenance equates to increased liability," Wilson said. "Actions like these would probably not be allowed in other neighborhoods and housing.

"In low-income neighborhoods and housing, there may not be complaints because the tenants do not want to get on the 'wrong' side of management; they're afraid of the repercussions."

Tarpon Springs City Commissioner Chris Alahouzos said the children who live in Mango Circle should have a playground. He said playground equipment can now be broken down easily and moved to other locations.

"If it's a financial issue, we can always do a fundraiser," Alahouzos said. "It's a lot cheaper keeping the kids occupied and healthy by using the playground."

Weber took plans for a new Mango Circle to the city's Planning and Zoning board last spring, but the initial plan was rejected because of its high density and the lack of open and recreation space on the 9.4-acre site.

The City Commission later approved the Mango Circle plan, but not before reducing it from 176 units to 104 and requiring that all designated recreation and open space remain in the plan.

At the time, Weber was on a tight deadline because she was trying to make the deadline to apply for a Florida Housing Finance Authority tax credit for funding.

If the credit was received, the Mango Circle project could have been completed by late 2011.

Since the tax credit was denied for the 2009 cycle, Cecka Green, FHFA's communications director, said it's impossible to know if or when any credits would be given for Mango Circle, especially with the present economy. Applications are being accepted for the 2011 cycle.

According to Tarpon Springs Housing Authority's application, once Mango Circle is torn down, the new affordable housing community would be called Eagle Ridge Apartments.

The $17-million project would be three stories and have walking trails, two recreation areas, a pool and a clubhouse.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at or (727) 445-4174.

A year later, Mango Circle children still without playground 04/17/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84


    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest


    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.