ST. PETERSBURG — Plans for the Roser Park trail are set to go ahead, despite a petition by some neighbors.
Opponents of the pedestrian and bicycle path argue that it will destroy mature trees, kill wildlife and change their historic neighborhood.
The decision to proceed with the $2.5 million project came after "careful consideration of the comments presented by the neighborhood residents, leaders, city staff and administration," said Cheryl Stacks, the city's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.
"I don't believe they listened" to Roser Park residents, said Mike McIntyre, who has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years.
The trail through Historic Roser Park, a community of about 130 homes just south of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and All Children's Hospital, will be an extension of the Historic Booker Creek Trail that runs through nearby Campbell Park. Construction is at least a year away.
"I am glad to see reason won over hysteria," said longtime Roser Park resident Kai Warren, who advocated for the project. "There are so many good things that are going to come from it. It's not only a benefit to Roser Park, it's a benefit to surrounding neighborhoods and it's a benefit for the whole south side, because people will be introduced to this part of the city that normally people don't come to. It's a benefit to tie into the rest of the city and the trails."
Those who see it differently are particularly upset about the concrete path that will cut through the small neighborhood park. It will be 10 feet wide in sections of the park, with an additional 2 feet of pavers on either side to allow for handrails in some spots. Green space will be ripped out, McIntyre said.
"They are taking out perfectly good trees. One of the things about Roser Park is the trees and the shade," he said.
The city has said it will develop a landscape replacement plan.
McIntyre also is concerned about the area's wildlife. "If you go out there at 7 in the morning, you can see all kinds of birds. There are turtles in the creek. There's fish down there. There are raccoons," he said.
Further, he said, residents are concerned about security. "You're making a superhighway for crime," he said.
The trail will form the second phase of the Booker Creek Trail, starting at Sixth Avenue S and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and ending at 11th Avenue S and Third Street.
Roser Park president Catherine Nivens acknowledged the neighborhood split over the project. "I am hopeful that now that the decision has been made, the neighborhood will work together to make the trail conform to the unique beauty of our neighborhood," she said in an email.
Stacks said the city will convey the neighborhood's concerns to its design consultants and work with the community on a landscape plan. However, she said, the width of the path has to conform to the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Beyond Roser Park, another phase of the trail is under construction. It will go past the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and end at Dalí Boulevard (Fifth Avenue S) and First Street.
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2283.