Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo commission okays seeking $10M loan for community center

After three meetings and a bit more debate, city leaders finally gave the okay Tuesday night to borrow $10 million to build a new community center.

City Commissioners Mary Gray Black and Curtis Holmes said they approve of the project. But both voted to oppose borrowing money to pull it off.

"I thought all along we were going to borrow the money from our own surpluses and repay it from Penny for Pinellas," Black said.

The city instead plans to acquire a loan and pay the money back over 10 years with Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenues.

The rest of the commission felt it was practical to move forward with the project now.

"I think it makes perfect sense to do it now when prices for construction are rock bottom," Mayor Pat Gerard said after the meeting.

Including interest, the city staff estimated that it will cost about $12 million to build the center, which will break ground next month. If the city had decided not to borrow, construction could have been delayed at least four years, and the project could have cost as much or more, according to staff estimates.

Tuesday was the third time the matter came before the City Commission. At the first vote, commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of borrowing. When the matter came before the commission for final approval, commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of borrowing. But the matter was continued because the majority of the seven-member commission must approve such decisions.

The city staff now plans to request loan offers to find a lender. But the matter isn't over.

City Attorney Alan Zimmet explained: "(The ordinance) doesn't require you to borrow the money. You will still have to approve the actual loan," he said.

In other action Tuesday night, commissioners:

• Voted to approve an agreement with Creative Contractors to manage construction of the Community Center, which will be built near the Palms of Largo campus. Commissioners also voted 6-1 to approve a resolution that opposes offshore drilling in state waters. Holmes dissented.

• Witnessed a peculiar incident during the citizen comment portion of Tuesday's meeting, a week after commissioners discussed limiting citizen comments to city business.

Greg Pound was escorted out by Police Chief Lester Aradi and Sgt. George Edmiston after Pound ignored Gerard's direction to keep his comments focused on city business.

Pound, who ran for Pinellas County sheriff last year, frequently speaks at Largo meetings, and pickets around town, to protest a case in which his parental rights were terminated.

"As you know, the city of Largo has nothing to do with having your children taken away," Gerard told Pound before the officers approached him.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at or (727) 445-4155.

Largo commission okays seeking $10M loan for community center 12/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.