SEMINOLE — Mall developers say they want taxpayers to foot the bill for about $7.6 million in "public benefit enhancements" that would be part of a revamped Seminole Mall.
Those enhancements would include off-site road improvements; permits and fees; architectural, legal, accounting and engineering "soft" costs; loan fees; interest expense; and documentary stamps, according to a budget list submitted to Seminole city staff members....
08/21/14 Local Government
LARGO — City Manager Mac Craig received high marks for his job performance in his most recent job evaluation.
Craig received an overall average of 4.78 on a 5.0 scale for a ranking of "good to excellent." Six of the seven city commissioners rated his overall performance as "excellent." The remaining commissioner, Curtis Holmes, checked the spaces for both "good" and "excellent."...
08/20/14 Local Government
Almost a year ago, a group calling itself Meow Now persuaded Pinellas commissioners to relax rules covering stray animals to clear the way for a program to reduce the feral cat population.
It appears a pilot program will go forward but it will likely be without the help of Meow Now.
Instead the county plans to partner with SPCA Tampa Bay and the Humane Society of Pinellas to create a program to trap, neuter, vaccinate and release feral cats. Maureen Freaney, head of Pinellas County Animal Services, said the SPCA and Humane Society would have a business plan in front of county commissioners by November. Commissioners would then also have a proposed rule clearing the way for the pilot program....
08/15/14 Local Government
LARGO — Woody Brown became the city's next mayor Friday when no one stepped up to run against him.
Brown said he was pleased and believes exciting times are ahead for the city.
"I just want to do what's right for people," Brown said. One of his goals, he said, is to have a set time in City Hall each week for people who want to talk to him.
He decided to run for mayor when the current officeholder, Pat Gerard, ran for the Pinellas County Commission....
08/14/14 Local Government
SEMINOLE — Voters here have plenty of choices in the race for City Council with a herd of six men running for two open seats.
Among the candidates are some familiar faces and some political newcomers.
The two most familiar to Seminole voters are Bob Matthews and Thomas J. Christy.
Matthews, 69, is the one incumbent in the race. He's a business owner who, with the exception of eight months in 2006-07, has served on the Seminole council since 1990. Christy, 63, is making his fifth bid for a council seat, having run unsuccessfully in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. He served on the Tonawanda, N.Y., City Council from 1990 to 1995. ...
08/13/14 Local Government
SEMINOLE — The political, business and civic leaders who crowded the City Council chambers Tuesday night wanted one thing: for City Manager Frank Edmunds to stick around rather than retire in January.
They got what they wanted ... to a point.
Edmunds agreed to stay an extra eight months, until August 2015. In return, council members agreed by a 6-0 vote, to give him an extra week's vacation for every month he stays and to begin searching for his successor in April. ...
08/09/14 Local Government
The debate on how Pinellas County can get a handle on rising costs for the emergency medical services system has made its way into the race for the at-large County Commission seat.
Two of the candidates, incumbent Norm Roche and challenger Ed Hooper, an outgoing state representative and former firefighter, are facing off in the Aug. 26 Republican primary. The winner will face outgoing Largo Mayor Pat Gerard, a Democrat, in the Nov. 4 general election. They have all staked out distinct positions on the EMS question....
08/07/14 Local Government
A decade ago, three members walked out rather than stay in the room while an atheist gave the invocation to open a Tampa City Council meeting.
About three years ago, Pinellas Park officials refused requests from a local atheist who wanted to give the invocation at their council meeting.
So when Joe Reinhardt stepped to the lectern at the Largo City Commission meeting on Tuesday to become the first atheist to give an invocation during a government meeting in Pinellas County, it was hard to know what the reaction might be....
SEMINOLE — Bulldozers could be at the doors of Seminole Mall in the next six or seven months if all goes well for developers.
"We would certainly like to start some sort of the demolition work in the first quarter of 2015, but we just don't know," said Dale Johnson, director of development and construction for Primerica Group One. Primerica has partnered with mall owner Seminole Mall LP and Primerica Developments, a Tampa-based company whose primary focus is on the development or redevelopment of shopping centers, to remake the property. The land is at the northeast corner of Park Boulevard and 113th Street N. ...
07/31/14 Economic Development
SEMINOLE — For years, the overriding hope for officials, business owners and many residents of this city was for Seminole Mall to be rebuilt and bring with it a vibrant shopping destination that would usher in jobs and prosperity.
That goal seems within grasp now that developers have proposed tearing down the existing structure and building a spiffy, more modern design with room for a 12-screen movie complex, a fitness center, retail shops and restaurants. The developers' presentation at the July 22 Seminole council meeting was designed to dazzle....
07/31/14 Local Government
LARGO — If you've ever wanted to run for city government, now's the time to step up. Qualifying for the five open seats — the mayor and four commission — opens at 8 a.m. today and runs to 5 p.m. Aug. 15.
Largo is the third-largest city in Pinellas County with an area of about 19 square miles and a population of about 77,900. It has a commission-manager form of government in which a professional manager oversees the daily operations of the city. An elected seven-member commission (a mayor and six council members) sets policy and is responsible for passing a budget and setting the property tax rate. The commission meets on the first and third Tuesday of the month and holds a workshop on the second Tuesday. The mayor and council members serve four-year terms and are elected in nonpartisan, at-large elections. The mayor earns about $20,180 per year and council members receive about $13,454. ...
07/24/14 Local Government
LARGO — This city has long been known for its aggressive annexation policies, but commissioners are stinging from charges that their approach lacks charm.
That will likely change. Commissioners directed staff to project an image more like "Mr. Rogers' neighborhood," as Largo Commissioner Curtis Holmes described it. But being warmer and friendlier doesn't mean backing off on annexations. It's more a matter of making sure people understand why it's a good idea to become a Largo taxpayer....
07/24/14 Local Government
SEMINOLE — John Counts says he will not run for re-election to the City Council.
"I'm not going to run again. I have spent over 10 years on council. I believe it's time for someone else to have that opportunity," Counts said Monday.
Counts said his decision came in part because his job as a regional sales manager for BB&T bank prevents him from devoting as much time to council business as he felt he should....
SEMINOLE — After almost 10 years of wishing, hoping and speculating, residents and business owners finally got a peek at Seminole Mall's possible future Tuesday night.
The North American Development Group and Primerica Group One presented a conceptual design that shows a transformation of the 39-plus-acre property. The indoor mall, which has stood there since 1965, will be razed. In its place would be a more modern design that has a 12-screen movie theater, a fitness center, retail stores, restaurants and a bank located mostly around the perimeter....
07/17/14 Human Interest
A little more than a year ago, SPCA Tampa Bay announced an ambitious initiative aimed at keeping pets together with their caregivers as a way of reducing the number of animals that end up in Pinellas County's animal shelters each year.
One goal was to open a low-cost veterinary practice in St. Petersburg with a high-volume spay-neuter clinic that would be open to all, regardless of ability to pay. That's still a bit down the road as SPCA officials continue to search for the right property....