Kriseman says he'll push for improvements at Jordan park
Mayor Rick Kriseman said he would use his "bully pulpit" as mayor to advocate for improved conditions at the Jordan Park public housing community.
Kriseman told members of the Citizen Advisory Committee of the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area on Monday that although the city doesn't own the property, he would push for "cultural changes" through appointments to the St. Petersburg Housing Authority's board and by encouraging better management of the 446-unit Midtown complex.
Kriseman said he would "call out issues when it's appropriate to do so."
Housing Authority CEO Tony Love said his agency planned to buy the complex by the end of the year and an agreement has been reached in principle with the private owners, Richman Group of Florida Inc. and Landex of Jacksonville.
Jordan Park's conditions have deteriorated in recent years with residents complaining of rodent infestations, uncut grass and other signs of disrepair and mismanagement.
Love said Monday that two pest control companies are working to eliminate the problem.
"We'll stay on top of it," Love said.
Theresa Jones, a CRA advisory committee member, said the current conditions were unacceptable.
"As a person who grew up in public housing, I was appalled," Jones said.
Have your say on Tropicana Field plans
The city announced two public meetings for residents to participate in a master plan for the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site.
A plan that includes a baseball stadium is due by the end of September. HKS Architects, a Dallas firm, will craft the plan. Another plan to envision development on the Trop's 85 acres will come later.
The public meetings will be at July 18, 6:30 p.m. at The Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N and on July 19, 6:30 p.m. at Campbell Park Recreation Center, 601 14th St. S.
Avery drops out of commission race
Robert Avery has dealt with extortion accusations and a virtually broke campaign since he entered the race for Largo City Commission Seat 3.
But he stuck it out — until two weeks ago. Avery dropped out of the race June 30, leaving two up to bat in the Nov. 8 election: incumbent Curtis Holmes and political newcomer Neil McMullen.
"It's kind of hard to drum up support right now," he said. "After you've been (dragged) through the mud, it's hard to get back on stage."
Avery, 31, said he was referring to an extortion accusation brought in November by his then-opponent, Aaron Darr, 25.
Darr told police he received an email through his campaign website saying the author had "nice things the citizens of Largo will be seeing soon" and for Darr to "never post anything digitally you wouldn't want your mom or partner to see."
Avery has repeatedly denied the charge, despite an interview with police where he agrees with an officer that he's the only one who could've sent the email. He maintained this week that his computer was hacked. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office dropped the charge in February.
Still, the accusation hurt his campaign, Avery said. Campaign finance records show he raised only $345 since he filed to run at the end of August. He pointed to the national political climate as a contributing factor to his campaign breakdown.
"This is a year where if there's any hair of doubt, the citizens just don't care," Avery said. "If your name's been attached to any kind of corruption or issues, you're done."
Avery, who has a background in information technology, said he plans to focus on obtaining a real estate license.
Plans for new fire station move forward
Commissioners gave the nod to design plans and additional funding for a new fire station that will be built in Belleair Bluffs.
At a workshop Tuesday, city officials proposed Fire Station 43 to have three bays with living space for six firefighters. The project will cost $3.5 million, $500,000 more than expected because of an overall increase in costs since the station was first budgeted in 2009, said Fire Chief Shelby Willis.
The station is moving from its location in a former gas station off Indian Rocks Road to two lots at 2749 and 2765 Bayway Ave. in Belleair Bluffs. It serves Largo, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair and the unincorporated Harbor Bluffs area. The expected move-in date is October 2017.
Oil change service opens at former gas station
A car service shop on the corner of Park Boulevard and 49th Street held its grand opening last month. Take 5 Oil Change offers oil changes between $24.99 for basic oil, $57.99 for synthetic blend, $74.99 for full synthetic and $84.99 for synthetic plus extended performance. Oil changes come with several other services including an air filter check, windshield wash, tire level adjustment and fluid refills.
The site at the prominent intersection used to be a gas station, said Pinellas Park Mayor Sandra Bradbury, "So (Take 5) was a perfect fit."
The shop is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call Take 5 at (727) 219-9401.
Times Staff Writers Charlie Frago, Katherine Snow Smith and Kathryn Varn contributed to this report.