Friday, October 19, 2018
News Roundup

‘Dining decks’ the latest attempt by New Port Richey to encourage downtown foot traffic

NEW PORT RICHEY — Embracing a national trend to build small "parklets" over public parking spaces in urban areas has led the city to consider revamping its alcohol ordinances to allow for sidewalk drinking and dining.

During a meeting Tuesday, the New Port Richey City Council discussed a pilot program to allow downtown businesses to erect parklets with an eye toward promoting more foot traffic and outdoor activity downtown.

The idea for parklets — deck-like structures built alongside a sidewalk and over adjacent parking spaces — came about after a dispute between the city and Sip restaurant owners Lisa and Kris Bolster. The Bolsters installed a wooden parklet last month in front Sip, at 6231 Grand Blvd.

A March 5 gathering to unveil the parklet drew public officials, including Mayor Rob Marlowe and Deputy Mayor Jeff Starkey, who expressed interest in allowing others to build similar structures downtown.

Others complained, however, and the city issued a citation to Lisa Bolster for building the parklet without a permit. The Bolsters were shocked. Their yearlong discussions with the city about the parklet led them to assume they could put it up.

The Bolsters moved the parklet off the street, but City Council members said they wanted to consider a program that would allow parklets downtown. That led to Tuesday’s hearing.

Council members seemed poised to green-light an 18-month parklet test program, but another hitch emerged: What about alcohol consumption on the parklets?

Even though business owners would insure parklets and provide for their upkeep, said City Attorney Timothy Driscoll, parklets still were sitting in a public space. New Port Richey bans alcohol consumption in public spaces without a special-event permit.

That did not sit well with Lisa Bolster, who told the council her vision was to allow customers to have a drink and eat food on their parklet. That prompted the council to move away from the parklet idea and consider what they called "dining decks." The city could lease public space to businesses, where they could build structures like the one the Bolsters installed.

A "dining deck" would be an extension of the business and allow for food and alcohol consumption. However, that still required relaxing the city’s ban on alcohol in public places, Driscoll said.

In a compromise of sorts, the City Council unanimously approved a "dining deck" program, allowing downtown businesses to negotiate a lease for a structure built over parking spaces. The council took no action on the city’s alcohol laws.

The council also approved a sweeping effort to look at downtown parking issues and ways to generate more foot traffic. That could include widening parameters for sidewalk dining and changes to alcohol ordinances.

The Bolsters said they could wait on ordinance changes if the city allows them to return their structure to Grand Boulevard. If they reach an agreement to return the parklet, they still would have to wait to serve alcohol.

Starkey expressed support for cutting "red tape" and allowing restaurant owners to develop outdoor activities.

"Let’s get people outside," he said. "Let’s make it easy."

Comments
Pinellas education news: Science festival, safe bus drivers, school choice and more

Pinellas education news: Science festival, safe bus drivers, school choice and more

Thousands expected for science festival, MarineQuestTwo big events — the St. Petersburg Science Festival and MarineQuest — will again be held together along the Bayboro Harbor waterfront Saturday, offering what organizers describe as &#...
Published: 10/19/18
Lightning cap off five-game homestand with 3-1 win over Detroit

Lightning cap off five-game homestand with 3-1 win over Detroit

TAMPA — The Lightning was a broken record in training camp, repeating how it needed to start the season strong. Last season's 15-2-2 start was the best in franchise history and launched it toward a playoff run. The Lightning wanted to do that a...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Diana C. Nearhos’ takeaways from Thursday’s Lightning-Red Wings game

Diana C. Nearhos’ takeaways from Thursday’s Lightning-Red Wings game

Steven Stamkos scored his first goal of the season in the second period. Entering the game, he wasn't alone among the league's top players to be goal-less. Last season's league MVP, the Devils' Taylor Hall, didn't get his first until Thursday night. ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

District volleyball: St. Petersburg ends a near five-year winless streak against Palm Harbor University

Finally.After five years of frustration against district rival Palm Harbor University, St. Petersburg finally defeated the Hurricanes in the final of the Class 8A, District 10 tournament, 23-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-20. The Green Devils (22-5) will host ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Michael Drejka wants to fire one of his lawyers

Michael Drejka wants to fire one of his lawyers

LARGO — Michael Drejka has moved to fire one of his defense attorneys, writing in an affidavit that lawyer Lysa Clifton solicited him in jail the day after his Aug. 13 arrest and refused his request that she withdraw from the case.The affidavit, sign...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa chief wants council to see larger context in ticketing of black bicyclists

Tampa chief wants council to see larger context in ticketing of black bicyclists

TAMPA — Police Chief Brian Dugan will deliver a breakdown of bicyclists stopped and ticketed by police at today’s City Council meeting, and the data will confirm what some council members already suspect: Black bicyclists are disproportionately stopp...
Updated: 7 hours ago

District volleyball: Top seeds Calvary Christian, Shorecrest advance

TAMPA – Calvary Christian and Shorecrest have been the top teams in Class 4A, District 4 all season. The district tournament did nothing to disprove that.The top-seeded Warriors eased past No. 5 seed and host Tampa Prep 25-9, 25-15, 25-16 Thurs...
Updated: 7 hours ago

District volleyball: Wharton makes Plant work for title

TAMPA — Plant hadn't dropped so much as a single set in district play all year. But in Thursday's Class 8A-8 final against Wharton, the Wildcats only fought harder as the match went on.Wharton came out sluggish, and Plant won the first set hand...
Updated: 7 hours ago

District volleyball: Sunlake doesn’t miss a beat without coach

LAND O'LAKES — Sunlake went into Thursday's Class 7A, District 8 championship without a notable figure on its sidelines: head coach Brian Gonzales.Gonzales was suspended for the district championship after Tuesday's district semifinal. Non...
Updated: 7 hours ago

District volleyball: Scrappy Holy Names falls to Cardinal Mooney

CLEARWATER — Opportunities like this are rare.Playing in a league along with Berkeley Prep, a team with the second-most state titles in Florida, doesn't provide many chances to be the top dog, even at the district level. When the defending stat...
Updated: 7 hours ago