Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg leaders extend Grand Prix contract through 2017 despite protests

ST. PETERSBURG — The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will roar on despite complaints about barriers and fences on city streets.

The City Council unanimously approved a three-year contract extension with race officials Thursday that will keep the Grand Prix here through 2017.

Leaders at the Mahaffey Theater and the Salvador Dalí Museum wanted the city to renegotiate a shorter time that their venues could be penned up behind concrete and steel barriers. The contract allows 68 days for setup and removal.

The Dalí museum, at Bayshore Drive and Fifth Avenue SE, is inside the race course and sealed off from the rest of downtown for more than a month. The Dalí was not in its current location when the city signed an earlier race contract in 2004.

The Mahaffey Theater closes for two weeks during the race because the barriers and production trucks impede events. The 2,100 barriers stood roughly from early February through early April in 2011.

Before the council's vote Thursday, several downtown residents complained about the barriers and the noise associated with the race.

"They've got to do a better job," said Willi Rudowsky, who lives downtown. "There is a constant beep, beep when trucks back up.

Laura Tillinghast Hine, wife of Dalí director Hank Hine, said barriers prevent her from walking her child to the park. She urged officials to table the vote for two months until a shorter period can be negotiated, adding: "I see this as a residents' issue."

A city staffer told council members that races in Detroit, Toronto and California require the same amount of time to put up and tear down the track.

Tim Ramsberger, general manager of the race, said the construction of the track is a complicated circus. He said he isn't comfortable with officials who aren't race experts simply changing the contact.

He pointed out that the group shortened this year's time by 10 days.

"We are not insensitive to this issue," he said. "Public safety is paramount."

The bickering, council member Bill Dudley said, sends a bad message to race officials.

"Indy Car is watching," he said. "There are people in line waiting to take our spot. … Forty-five days is very reasonable."

The race's owner pledged that the firm will work to reduce the time.

Council members praised race officials for bringing so much publicity and money to the city.

Council member Karl Nurse urged everyone to work together, saying: "Can't we all just get along?"

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459.

St. Petersburg leaders extend Grand Prix contract through 2017 despite protests 06/21/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What you need to know for Thursday, Oct. 19

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida tonight and the school is on high alert for tensions. [Associated Press]
  2. Bowen: Park land deal raises Penny for Pasco questions

    Environment

    The Penny for Pasco is unambiguous.

    At least it is supposed to be.

    There was no equivocating in 2004 when Penny for Pasco supporters detailed how the sales tax proceeds would be spent: schools, transportation, public safety and environmental lands. No money for parks. No money for recreation.

    Pasco County is considering a loan from its Environmental Lands Acquisition and Mangement Program to buy land for a park in the Villages of Pasadena Hills in east-central Pasco. Shown here is the Jumping Gully Preserve in Spring Hil, acquired by ELAMP in 2009 and 2011.
[Douglas R. Clifford, Times]
  3. Another Tampa Bay agency loses tax credits worth millions in dispute over application error

    News

    LARGO — Another Tampa Bay housing agency has lost out on a multi-million dollar tax credit award because of problems with its application.

    A duplex in Rainbow Village, a public housing complex in Largo. The Pinellas County Housing Authority is planning to build new affordable-housing in the complex but was recently disqualified from a state tax credit award because of an issue with its application.
  4. Live blog: Many unknowns as Richard Spencer speaks in Gainesville today

    College

    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    Florida Highway Patrol cruisers jammed the parking lot Wednesday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville, part of a big show of force by law enforcement ahead of Thursday's appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer. [KATHRYN VARN | Times]
  5. As Clearwater Marine Aquarium expands, it asks the city for help

    Growth

    CLEARWATER — When Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates saw an architect's initial design for the facility's massive expansion project, he told them to start all over.

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium Veterinarian Shelly Marquardt (left), Brian Eversole, Senior Sea Turtle and Aquatic Biologist (middle) and Devon Francke, Supervisor of Sea Turtle Rehab, are about to give a rescued juvenile green sea turtle, suffering from a lot of the Fibropapillomatosis tumors, fluids at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Wednesday afternoon. Eventually when the turtle is healthy enough the tumors will be removed with a laser and after it is rehabilitated it will be released back into the wild.  -  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is launching a $66 million renovation to expand its facilities to take in injured animals and space to host visitors. The aquarium is asking the city for a $5 million grant Thursday to help in the project. American attitudes toward captive animals are changing. Sea World is slipping after scrutiny on the ethics of captive marine life. But CEO David Yates says CMA is different, continuing its mission of rehab and release, it's goal is to promote education, not exploitation. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times