Wednesday, November 22, 2017
News Roundup

St. Petersburg explores buying portion of Rahall Estate for park

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The St. Petersburg City Council unanimously voted at its June 19 meeting to authorize the city staff to make an "inquiry" into acquiring a 1.75-acre parcel of the Rahall Estate in southwestern St. Petersburg.

Council member Steve Kornell tried unsuccessfully this month to persuade his colleagues to spend $3.4 million to buy the 4.6 acre property complete with a 10,000-square-foot mansion at 4251 42nd Ave S. The home in the Broadwater area was acquired 55 years ago by Sam Rahall, founder of Rahall Communications.

Kornell is now pitching the idea of buying a smaller parcel — without the house — for a park. The council directed the city to ask Rahall if he'd be willing to sell that for $1.2 million, about $100,000 less than the lower of two appraisals.

Liberti wins support of fellow firefighters

Pinellas County Commission District 4 candidate Macho Liberti's connection to the firefighting community is paying off.

Liberti, a 35-year-old firefighter and emergency medical technician for Largo, has landed endorsements from the Florida Professional Firefighters, a statewide firefighter union, as well as the firefighter associations in Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor/Oldsmar, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Indian Rocks, Largo, Pinellas Park, Seminole, St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach.

Florida Professional Firefighters donated $500 to Liberti's campaign. So has Firefighters and Paramedics for Public Safety, a Venice-based political action committee.

The local support could translate to a potent boots-on-the-ground campaign force in the north county district.

Liberti of Palm Harbor is one of seven Republicans in the race for the seat being vacated by Susan Latvala, who decided not to run again. The others are Dave Eggers, Johnny Johnson, Tim Keffalas, Wanda Kimsey, Peter Nehr and Jim Ronecker.

Another chamber backs transit plan

The Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum has landed the backing of another local chamber of commerce.

This time it's the organization in Safety Harbor that has decided to publicly support the plan that would increase the county sales tax by one cent to expand bus service and build a 24-mile light rail line between St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

"The Greenlight Pinellas plan will greatly improve transit options throughout Pinellas and here in Safety Harbor," Susan Petersen, executive director of the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release. "Our community is an important connector between north Pinellas and the Gateway/Carillon area, and improved transportation will greatly benefit both our businesses and our residents."

According to the release, the endorsement is the 10th from a Tampa Bay area chamber. The others listed in the release are St. Petersburg Area, Clearwater Regional, Clearwater Beach, Tampa Bay Beaches, Central Pinellas, Dunedin, Greater Tampa, South Tampa and Oldsmar Upper Tampa Bay.

However, Oldsmar Upper Tampa Bay president and chief executive officer Jerry Custin said his organization has yet to take a position.

Friends of Greenlight spokesman Kyle Parks said his group provided the list for the Safety Harbor news release and erroneously included Oldsmar Upper Tampa Bay.

Parks said the list should have included the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

Opponents don't want to see a tax increase for a plan that they call an expensive boondoggle. Voters will decide Nov. 4.

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