Saturday, November 18, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Make great waterfront even better

RECOMMENDED READING


By almost any standard, St. Petersburg has gotten it right when it comes to its downtown waterfront, starting with city leaders a century ago who had the vision to preserve much of it for the public. The challenge now, as the city embarks on writing a 100-year master plan for its downtown waterfront, is to turn the city's most envied asset into a greater one. That will best be accomplished by focusing on improving the waterfront south of Central Avenue.

Turnout for the plan's kickoff Wednesday night was robust, but it's just the first of 13 opportunities between now and Sept. 19 for the public to provide suggestions as part of the eight-month process. Five of those meetings will be "walking audits" in the evening or on a weekend day, where the public will have the opportunity, over the course of the outings, to cover the entire length of the master plan area — from 30th Avenue N to 22nd Avenue S. Smaller meetings are scheduled with the area's stakeholders — from downtown residents to businesses to groups that stage concerts and other events in the parks. Mayor Rick Kriseman hopes to present a proposal to the City Council by May.

One thing was already clear Wednesday night: Residents love the function of what works so well north of Central Avenue. The linear, mostly passive park system has become the city's outdoor living room, drawing thousands on weekends for relaxation. The biggest improvement, perhaps, would be finding more space elsewhere to do what these parks do so well and ease the strain on them, particularly when it comes to Vinoy Park, which has become the default location for festivals large and small. The Urban Land Institute, hired to provide its perspective in advance of the master plan, and others have called for the city to find a way to relieve the stress on that parcel in particular.

South of Central Avenue is a different story. Starting with Albert Whitted Airport, pedestrians and traffic are blocked from large portions of the waterfront. That makes it harder to reach the growing University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, the city's municipal port, the Salt Creek district and the striking waterfront Lassing Park. The bifurcation also impedes connections with the medical district just west of the university, hampering the dream of a more robust "Innovation District."

The master plan also should address what's next for two of downtown's most underperforming assets. Might a master plan find some solutions for energizing the city's port? And what next for the parcel where the aging Al Lang Stadium sits largely idle since the loss of spring baseball training? Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards has pushed to reimagine the site with a multiuse stadium his soccer team could use. But potential options shouldn't stop there. Removing Al Lang from the downtown footprint would offer opportunities to realign streets, add more parkland and provide better connections to neighborhoods to the south.

St. Petersburg did a lot right in the past 100 years in protecting its waterfront. The trick now is to make it even better in the next 100 years.

Comments

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17