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. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.