Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Construction begins on St. Petersburg Grand Prix track

ST. PETERSBURG

Monday marked the start of the 35-day construction period required for workers to turn downtown streets into a 14-turn, 1.8-mile IndyCar track for the Fire-stone St. Petersburg Grand Prix.

The race, which will be held March 28-30, will go along an Albert Whitted Airport runway, wind around the Dalí Museum and up First Street SE, then snake around Pioneer Park and down Bay Shore Drive. Its creation will require 20,000 feet of steel-reinforced concrete barriers and 44,000 feet of chain-link fencing.

On Monday, local officials gathered to praise the event and the exposure it brings. It is broadcast on four channels in 200 countries. "That's something that you really can't buy, that kind of attention," said Vice Mayor Kanika Tomalin.

But some businesses along the route didn't share the enthusiasm for an event that comes in the middle of tourist season.

"It is horrible, absolutely horrible," said Billy Cornelius, who owns BayFront Tower Hair Design, which sits on the northern end of the track on Beach Drive. "I complain every year."

Construction cuts down on parking and makes it difficult for his elderly and disabled clients to get in and out of the building, he said.

"It takes away from my business," Cornelius said.

After eight years in the same spot, he's taken to leaving for vacation the week of the race.

At the Kantner Law Firm next to Cornelius' salon, legal assistant Rachelle Vo said staff members know what to expect after four years in the same location.

"It's a little bit of a nuisance for us, but we work around it," Vo said.

She said construction doesn't impact the office as much as race week, when staffers spend a few days working out of satellite offices in Lutz or Palm Harbor.

The Dalí Museum announced earlier this month it would close the weekend of the race because of low attendance.

Chris Steinocher, president of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, said the race will boost the city's image and bring an influx of visitors — and television viewers — to its streets.

Steinocher said his organization has been working to help businesses that might be affected by construction, including updating websites and working on a Twitter campaign to advertise parking opportunities.

In general, he said residents and businesses know what to expect with the race, now in its 10th year.

"It's important to us that they still feel they can do business during this time,'' he said.

The real challenge lies in helping visitors here for the busy tourist season understand the logistics of the race and preparations for it during the next month, Steinocher said.

John Brozek, who owns Quality Tyme Rare and Fine Timepieces on First Street SE, expects construction to be a minor inconvenience. The true stressor comes during race week, he said.

The noise can be deafening, he said. A banner on his website will warn patrons to email instead of calling. "For that four days, it does (stinks)," Brozek said.

Still, he says, it's worth the hassle.

"I love the race, I love going to it, I love seeing it," he said. "So I see it as a good tradeoff."

Claire Wiseman can be reached at [email protected] or (727)-893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

Comments
Largo police investigating fatal hit-and-run crash on East Bay Drive

Largo police investigating fatal hit-and-run crash on East Bay Drive

LARGO — Police officers are investigating a hit-and-run crash Wednesday morning that left a pedestrian dead and shut down a section of E Bay Drive.According to Largo police, the pedestrian, who police described as an older white man but did not ident...
Updated: 6 minutes ago

Three Pasco cities will have contested council races

NEW PORT RICHEY – It will be a hotly contested election April 10 in several Pasco cities as 16 candidates vie for a total of six seats in New Port Richey, Port Richey and Zephyrhills.Meanwhile, Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez and Commissioner Scott...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Each lap remains a lease on life for distance runner Jon Mott

Each lap remains a lease on life for distance runner Jon Mott

LAKELAND — It took only one moment of teenage audacity for Northeast High's top distance runner to be immortalized as a sprinter.Days before his high school graduation, Jon Mott sneaked off to a dugout in the baseball stadium. There, he strippe...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Evangelist Billy Graham, preacher to presidents, dies at age 99

Evangelist Billy Graham, preacher to presidents, dies at age 99

MONTREAT, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died Wednesday. He was 99.Graham, who lo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: No end in sight to Tampa Bay’s record-setting heat

Forecast: No end in sight to Tampa Bay’s record-setting heat

A high-pressure system covering central Florida is maintaining record-setting warm temperatures and dry weather across the Tampa Bay, and there is no end in sight.Record highs in the upper 80s were set Tuesday in Sarasota, Tampa Bay and Clearwater. I...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police: Teen, 17, shoots Pinellas Park man who confronted him after car break-in

Police: Teen, 17, shoots Pinellas Park man who confronted him after car break-in

PINELLAS PARK — A Pinellas Park teen faces a charge of attempted murder after police say he stole a gun from an unlocked vehicle and shot the owner as he tried to give chase.Police say Brandon Paul Roman, 17, faces charges including attempted murder,...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pedestrian killed by hit-and-run driver in Tampa

Pedestrian killed by hit-and-run driver in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was fatally struck by a hit-and-run vehicle early Wednesday morning.Police say the pedestrian died at the scene after being struck in the 6900 block of E Adamo Drive.Eastbound lanes are closed at S Maydell Drive, according to the...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The Daystarter: Student protestors reach Tallahassee; Kucherov gets it in gear; St. Petersburg’s black pioneers get their own documentary; fallout over the Souza trade

The Daystarter: Student protestors reach Tallahassee; Kucherov gets it in gear; St. Petersburg’s black pioneers get their own documentary; fallout over the Souza trade

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• For the latest legislative coverage from Tallahassee, keep checking The Buzz, which is updated throughout the day by the reporters of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.• Re...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Documentary pays homage to St. Pete’s black pioneers (w/video)

Documentary pays homage to St. Pete’s black pioneers (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — In the 1940s, David and Archie Boston grew up together in the Gas Plant neighborhood and hung out together on 22nd Street S, where black residents created their own main street, their own haven, in the midst of a segregated city.The ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Today’s WriteLane podcast: Narratives off the news

Today’s WriteLane podcast: Narratives off the news

Today’s WriteLane is about finding narratives off the news.The weekly podcast features Lane DeGregory, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, discussing her stories and answering questions. The focus is on craft.In this week’s epis...
Published: 02/21/18