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Segways are just the ticket for parking enforcement

It seems everything's popping up green.

The growing trend of shrinking a city's carbon footprint — and budget — has been going on since gas prices starting climbing some years ago.

One of the most cost-effective ways of doing this is cutting costs for those gas-guzzling city vehicles.

The Pinellas Park Police Department implemented the use of Segways in 2010. That city's new community redevelopment area unit added four Segways.

Now the Sunshine City is hopping on board.

Last weekend, parking enforcement officers added two Segways to their fleet of motorized and electric carts.

While I haven't spotted the two-wheelers just yet, city officials say the use of the Segways was implemented for more than just parking enforcement.

The officers are often the front-line contact for tourists and locals seeking directions to museums, attractions, shops, restaurants and parking. The Segways are intended to make staffers more visible and approachable.

So just where will the officers be deployed?

"They'll usually be on Central Avenue, Beach Drive, USF St. Petersburg and anywhere in the downtown area where there are meters — mainly the high-traffic areas," said Evan Mory, parking manager for the city.

There are seven three-wheeled, gas-powered enforcement vehicles dating back to 2003, he said. In 2011 the city purchased electric carts.

It's still unclear if the city plans to buy a fleet of Segways.

"We'll see how it goes," Mory said. "Depending on how they work for us, we may purchase them in future years."

The city is phasing out its older gas-powered vehicles in favor of the cost-effective and more environmentally friendly open-air carts, and now Segways.

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It seems another event with an international presence is interested in the Second Time Arounders Marching Band.

The latest invitation comes from the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, D.C. Folks, this is a big deal. Marching bands rarely get invited to perform in front of the grandstand during the event — let alone before a national TV audience. But that's what's in store for this special group.

The national spotlight isn't new for this outfit. It performed at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in 2008.

The band also performed at Walt Disney World; the Rose Festival in Portland, Ore.; the Fiesta San Antonio in Texas; Gasparilla/Super Bowl Parade 2001 in Tampa; the Conch Republic Celebration in Key West; and the St. Patrick's Day festivals in Savannah, Ga., and Dublin, Ireland.

Founded in 1983, the band was formed to perform for the Festival of States celebration in St. Petersburg.

Band members range in age from 18 to 85. It was the first all-ages band in the country.

For more information on the band, its scheduled trip to Washington in 2014 or joining, visit secondtimearounders.org.

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Despite the sweltering heat, fresh markets are still popular here.

The summer markets are in full swing. Both St. Petersburg's Saturday Morning Market and Gulfport's Tuesday Fresh Market have made moves or adjusted their summer schedules.

In St. Petersburg, the market runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., but the venue has changed. The more scaled-down market will be in Williams Park until August. In Gulfport, the market shifts to summer hours, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at sgadsden@tampabay.com or at (727) 893-8874 and on Twitter @StPeteSandi.

Segways are just the ticket for parking enforcement 05/31/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 31, 2013 8:07pm]

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