Saturday, September 22, 2018
News Roundup

St. Pete talks the talk with renewable energy, but City Council wants Kriseman to walk the walk and put solar panels on new fire station

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman has reveled in the embrace of environmentalists since declaring his city's commitment to rely completely on clean, renewable energy nearly two years ago.

But, as Thursday's City Council meeting showed, change is hard.

Council members were discussing a plan for a new $3.4 million fire station in Fossil Park in the city's northeast side, when council member Karl Nurse asked if the design included solar panels.

No, said Raul Quintana, the city's architect.

"Since we're committed to 100 percent clean energy, is there a reason we didn't put solar panels on the roof?" Nurse asked.

The city had budgeted $2.8 million for the station, Quintana said, but it ended up being more expensive, in part because it contained three bays for fire trucks. The budget just didn't allow for solar panels, he added.

"You're building a new building," Nurse responded. "There's no cheaper time to build solar."

Quintana agreed to look at the feasibility of adding solar panels, but City Administrator Gary Cornwell broke in.

"We don't have a funding source for it," he said

In an interview later Thursday, Kriseman said he's hoping to find the money to put solar panels on the station's roof — either as the building is being built or as a retrofit. He doesn't know how much that might cost.

The fact that the station's design doesn't include solar panels can be attributed to the timing of the project, the mayor said. The decision to replace the station was made at the same time Kriseman signed his executive order on sustainability in August 2015.

City employees are still adapting to make renewable energy a top priority.

"Everything we're trying to do is very different than what was historically done when it comes to sustainability," Kriseman said. "When you're not used to doing it, it's a cultural shift. We're trying to get everybody to look through that lens on every project."

Recently, Kriseman successfully persuaded council members to back a belated addition of solar panels to the new police headquarters at a cost of $2.3 million. The administration has also proposed a $1 million solar array on the approach to the new pier.

Kriseman said he hopes council members will authorize the solar panels for the pier approach, which is part of the $14 million in tax-increment financing dollars the mayor asked county commissioners to move from transportation to pier improvements.

At Thursday's meeting, the council unanimously approved the construction contract with the caveat that the administration examine whether solar panels can be added.

If all goes according to plan, the station should be open in a year.

Firefighters will welcome the change. The current station was built in 1960 and isn't in great shape. Two years ago, former council member Bill "Coach" Dudley surprised his colleagues and the city staff by describing a visit to the station in which roaches had run across his feet.

Although the budget that year was essentially done, administration officials scrambled to find money to build the new station. They found it.

The station, next to Fossil Park, might not get solar panels, but it does have plenty of modern amenities. The 9,168-square-foot structure will house a fire engine, rescue truck and brush truck, and will include individual sleeping quarters for seven firefighters and a captain.

The new fire station is modeled on the Lake Maggiore station, an LEED-certified station, built in 2011. That station is considered a model of energy efficiency, Quintana said.

The new station will require the relocation of two lighted tennis courts and a park maintenance building, according to city documents.

As for Kriseman's plan to transform the role of solar in the Sunshine City?

"It's still a work in progress," he said.

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow @CharlieFrago.

USF’s Kitija Laksa begins play in FIBA Women’s World Cup

USF’s Kitija Laksa begins play in FIBA Women’s World Cup

Before resuming her assault on USF's record books, Kitija Laksa will try to make history with her homeland.A native of Riga, Latvia, Laksa begins play with her native country this morning in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in Spain.Latvia is ma...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Football: Clearwater 34, Mitchell 7

Football: Clearwater 34, Mitchell 7

TRINITY — What at first looked like a defensive stalemate between Clearwater and Mitchell quickly turned into a rout.Clearwater had revenge on its mind Friday night after a 45-28 loss to Mitchell last year during the the regular seaso...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Football: Tampa Bay Tech 28, Hillsborough 27

Football: Tampa Bay Tech 28, Hillsborough 27

TAMPA — The decision was made as soon as Hillsborough got the ball back. Trailing by a touchdown with just over four minutes remaining against Tampa Bay Tech, the Terriers had the ball on their own 6-yard line.They hadn't been able to move the ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Football: Largo 35, Countryside 0

Football: Largo 35, Countryside 0

LARGO — The offense was relentless and merciless Friday night, but that has been the case a lot recently. Largo is scoring points in bunches and getting contributions from everyone. Add in a defense that has been smothering, as well as a special team...
Updated: 8 hours ago
How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

Active assailant. Run-hide-fight. Barricade the classroom. The language of preventing a shooting like the one this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is often filled with terms that can stir up fear in students, often out of necessity.But f...
Published: 09/22/18
Rays bounce back big after a debacle

Rays bounce back big after a debacle

TORONTO — The way the Rays played Friday — all nine innings, lesson learned — in beating the Jays 11-3 provided the best answer on how, or even if, they could rebound from the crushing loss the night before that all but ended their ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Football: Sickles 7, Freedom 3

TAMPA — Sickles needed a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter to escape Freedom 7-3 on Homecoming and remain in the hunt for a Class 7A, District 8 title.Gryphons coach Patrick Murphy knew that facing the Patriots would be a battle. Freedom (1-...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Football: Armwood 24, Jefferson 14

SEFFNER — Armwood is becoming accustomed to winning close games.The Hawks fended off visiting Jefferson 24-14 in a defensive battle that featured a plethora of holding penalties in the second half.Armwood (3-1) earned two rushing touchdowns from juni...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Football: Plant 44, Gaither 34

TAMPA — Seventy-eight points. Eight hundred and 40 yards in total offense. Five players surpassing the century mark in yardage.When the game was over Friday, Plant had the edge in every category — including the scoreboard as the Panthers (3-1) opened...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Football: Robinson 28, Blake 25

TAMPA — Nevermind that Blake scored a go-ahead touchdown with 87 seconds left in the game.Forgive him, but part of Robinson junior Lateef Al-Shaa’ir was hoping it would happen just so it would set up a comeback.And it did.With 24 seconds left in the ...
Updated: 9 hours ago