Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pioneer descendant forming foundation to help maintain St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront parks

ST. PETERSBURG — The city's downtown waterfront parks are a gem. Actually, says Phil Graham Jr. with conviction, they're St. Petersburg's most important asset.

The descendant of one of the city's earliest settlers and landscape architect of the new Dalí Museum has come up with an idea to burnish the parklands in the city's downtown that edge Tampa Bay.

His proposal, to create a Downtown Waterfront Park Foundation that would provide supplemental funding for maintenance and improvements for the city's "cherished jewel," was presented a few months ago to the City Council's public services and infrastructure committee.

"Great memories are experienced and enlivened in the setting of the waterfront park environment. In fact, I've heard St. Petersburg's beautiful waterfront compared to Monte Carlo … without the mountains," Graham said.

"I decided that there are enough people in this city that love the waterfront parks as I do and would work to preserve and maintain them to the highest standards.''

The council supports the idea of the nonprofit, independent volunteer group. The idea is embraced by leisure and community services administrator Clarence Scott.

"We welcome the opportunity for the partnership and see it as a win-win opportunity,'' he said.

As municipal budgets shrink, Scott said, "the phenomenon of the establishment of parks foundations is taking off across the country.''

St. Petersburg's parks and recreation department has faced several years of cuts, he said. In 2000, the department had just under $1 million for maintenance of plants and turf, Scott said. In the past few years, though, money for such tasks as planting, fertilizing and sodding has dropped to about $290,000.

Speaking before the council committee, Graham said the financial constraints have been evident in fewer plantings of trees and seasonal flowers, replacement of shrubs and refurbishment of grassy areas. "The parks are losing their luster for lack of funds," he said.

The foundation would help fill the gap, he promised.

Graham is already involved in a similar effort. He is a board member of the foundation that recently helped redevelop Pioneer Park at Central Avenue and Beach Drive, where an obelisk bears the names of St. Petersburg pioneers.

John Green, also a Pioneer Park Foundation board member, said the group contributed $46,900 to the recently completed project, which Scott said cost approximately $100,000. Pioneer Park, in the shadow of Bayfront Tower, was initiated by the foundation, Green said, which contracted with the city to build it and has provided funding through the years to help with maintenance.

The new foundation will focus on parks stretching from Flora Wylie Park, at 13th Avenue and North Shore Drive NE, to Poynter Park, at 1000 Third St. S.

A formation committee will meet in about a month.

"It's really an opportunity to continue funding our parks to the brightest shine we can,'' Graham said. "It's like a gem and you want to keep polished."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

Pioneer descendant forming foundation to help maintain St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront parks 05/01/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 2:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tom Sawyer with a revolver? Twain house has live 'Clue' game


    HARTFORD, Conn. — Was it Tom Sawyer in Samuel Clemens' billiard room with a revolver?

    In this July 14 photo, actor Dan Russell, left, portraying the character Arkansas from Mark Twain's book Roughing it, responds to a question from 10-year-old Emma Connell, center, of Arizona during a "Clue" tour at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Conn. The tour allows visitors to interact with Twain characters while playing a live-action version of the board game. [AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb]
  2. East Tampa store owner who survived one shooting is targeted again with fatal results (w/video)


    TAMPA — In the 2011 video, Mahamoud Ibrahim stands behind the counter of his tiny East Tampa convenience store, his back to the surveillance camera meant to discourage thieves.

    A memorial has sprouted in front of the 29th Street Store in East Tampa, where a robber fatally shot owner Mohamoud Ibrahim on July 16. Security experts say small mom-and-pop stores in high crime areas are easy targets for robberies and typically don't have the budgets for extra security measures. [TONY MARRERO/Times Staff]
  3. Pinellas superintendent, School Board pen letter to legislative delegation for help against 'unjust' funds for charter schools


    Because of a recent change in state law, the Pinellas County school district will have to shell out $25 million over five years  -- more funding per student than any other large district in the state -- for charter school construction and maintenance projects, and district officials …

    Pinellas will have to share dollars more per charter school student than any other large or neighboring school district, however smaller school districts will have to share proportionally more of their locally levied millage funds with charter schools for construction and maintenance projects.
  4. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to send voter education videos


    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  5. Photos: Kehlani packs fans into a sold-out Orpheum in Tampa


    R&B singer Kehlani had to postpone a spring show in Tampa due to illness, but it seemed she was no worse for the wear on Thursday, when her make-up show sold out the Orpheum well in advance. Ella Mai and Jahkoy opened the show. Aubrey Wipfli was there snapping photos; click the headline …

    Kehlani performed at the Orpheum in Tampa on July 20, 2017.