Sunday, December 17, 2017
Opinion

Robbery at Dell Holmes Park an anomaly, police say

The recent incident at a popular family-friendly park has residents wondering if St. Petersburg police should beef up security there.

The city lists 20 specialty parks on its website, most of which include a host of amenities. But Dell Holmes Park at 2741 22nd St. S, where the incident occurred, has been a hidden gem.

The park is nestled on the northern end of Lake Maggiore and is one of the few in the city that offer lots of shade near key areas where children play. The park is named in honor of the late Litdell Holmes Jr., the city's parks director from 1983 to 2003.

The 22-acre park features a fitness trail, driving range and putting green, picnic shelters with grills, a gazebo and a fishing pier. The addition of a splash pad has brought more young families, who make the trek to the park from throughout the city.

The quiet seclusion of the park is perfect for playdates and morning romps. And now we know that the seclusion and foliage were a perfect opportunity for the vermin among us.

Monday's armed robbery may serve as a clarion call for residents who want a splash pad feature near the Pier approach.

City Council member Karl Nurse said last week that a splash park at Spa Beach is just what's needed. His request was unrelated to Monday's incident.

Nurse proposed tapping into the Weeki Wachee fund for the $300,000 enhancement to the new Pier.

Others could argue that a bad economy is not the best of times to consider such a perk. But when a young mother is threatened in the manner that Michelle Smith was Monday morning, it's understandable why she has vowed to never return to the park.

Should the city add security cameras to the parks to ensure safety?

"There's all kinds of talk about cameras in several parks," said police spokesman Mike Puetz. "But not there. Since this latest event, the subject has come up. But Dell Holmes Park hasn't been an issue."

City officials caution that residents shouldn't jump to conclusions about the park and surrounding areas. Puetz added that the neighbors near the park have been active in the community.

"Isolated incidents can take place anywhere,'' he said.

On Thursday, I paid a visit to the park.

While there, I met Jillian Mutti, who brought her children, 6 months and 4 years old, to the park specifically for the splash pad.

Mutti, who lives in Lakewood Estates, was unaware of the armed robbery that took place days earlier.

News of the incident didn't appear to deter her.

"It's the best park, especially if you just want to get the kids out of the house to run around on the splash pad," she said.

Some parents prefer to come early in the day during the week, Mutti said.

"On the weekends it's so packed, and I have to really keep an eye out for him (her son) with so many people out here," she said.

Mutti added that older kids frequent the park later in the day, which explains why families with younger kids go in the morning.

Like Mutti, city officials say they don't think the park is in a problematic area.

"At this point I consider it an anomaly," said Puetz. "We did have one incident and we've had calls for service, mainly family gatherings that got out of hand, but it is not one of our problem areas."

He said the park is well patrolled, even though it appears to be secluded.

The Police Department's canine compound is within eyesight of the park. There are other city departments just south of the park. Puetz says that because the park is so popular, not just at the splash pad but at the driving range and the fishing pier, that there's usually a strong presence of adults with cellphones who could call for help at a moment's notice.

Here's hoping he's right.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at [email protected] or at (727) 893-8874.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17