06/15/13 Human Interest
SEMINOLE — One of the last remaining Pinellas County landmarks from the Florida of tourists and kitsch is on the market.
The former Orange Blossom Groves is for sale for $2.9 million for about 9.2 acres.
That includes five commercially zoned parcels totaling about 2.2 acres fronting the road at 5800 Seminole Blvd. The remaining 7 acres on the west side of the site is zoned residential....
SEMINOLE — A county agency plans to build affordable apartments on the site of the former Women's Hospital.
The Pinellas County Housing Authority paid about $1.38 million on April 30 for the 12-acre site that sits on the western edge of Lake Seminole, according to Pinellas County Property Appraiser records. The land has an assessed value of about $1.07 million.
"We're really excited about it," said Debra Johnson, housing authority executive director. "The final plans have not been developed, but we want to build, construct affordable housing on that land."...
06/04/13 Local Government
KENNETH CITY — After spending three years haggling over a new contract, the police and town have agreed that they can't agree.
Kenneth City officials received official notice of the impasse last week in an email from Michael Krohn, executive director of the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents the police officers.
"At this point, with the town declining to make any changes to the rejected proposed PBA contract and the town has offered its 'best and final,' the PBA bargaining unit must declare impasse," Krohn wrote May 30....
05/31/13 Local Government
At least two Pinellas commissioners are angry over a highly paid consultant's failure to analyze some ideas to cut costs of the county's emergency medical services system in a draft report released Thursday.
"I don't believe it fully responds to the board's request for analysis of various options," Commissioner Ken Welch said of the report by Fitch & Associates.
Commissioner Norm Roche called it "a disappointing return on our $300,000 investment."...
05/31/13 Local Government
SEMINOLE — Discount giant Walmart wants to build a supercenter on the site of the former Bay Pines Mobile Home Park.
The company has submitted preliminary plans for Seminole city staff to review, a process that could take at least three to four weeks. Once any kinks are worked out, Walmart can submit final plans and apply for a building permit.
Discussions have been ongoing for six to eight months between Seminole and Walmart representatives about the retailer's plan to build on the old mobile home site as part of a larger mixed-use development that would include homes and businesses. The city wanted to make sure, among other things, that the architecture would not be that of a typical Walmart but would have a Mediterranean flair to blend with the design of Bay Pines VA Medical Center across the street....
05/30/13 Local Government
Pinellas has a stellar, world-class emergency medical services system that should not undergo major changes in order to save money, concludes a consultant's draft report released Thursday.
Instead, Fitch & Associates says, the system should be "tweaked" to reduce the number of firefighter/paramedics who work a 24-hour shift.
Fitch developed a recommendation it calls "CARES," for communitywide alignment of resources for efficiency and service. Under that plan, 19 fire-based rescue vehicles would work 14-hour days rather than 24 hours as they do now. Otherwise, the system would remain as is....
05/25/13 Local Government
KENNETH CITY — The workshop was called to discuss the wisdom of hiring a city manager, and by the end, some residents said it was a prime example of the need for a professional to run the town.
The meeting, they said, was an insult to Kenneth City and its residents because council members spent much of the time squabbling over allegedly missing stakes for yard signs, a supposedly missing photograph from the Town Hall and whether the police chief should fill out paper work to spend tax money. Residents were equally unimpressed when Mayor Teresa Zemaitis turned her presentation about the wisdom of changing the government to a council-manager format into one about the possible elimination of the Police Department....
05/25/13 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — A district fire chief was given a written reprimand and a 12-hour unpaid suspension after an investigation concluded he had made a sexually charged comment to a female firefighter.
Louis Sclafani, 51, conceded he made a comment concerning her posture to a female firefighter who was kneeling or crouching on the floor while examining her gear. A male firefighter was standing nearby and heard the comment. Sclafani denied he meant the comment in a sexual manner, but was referring to servants kneeling in the presence of royalty....
05/21/13 Local Government
KENNETH CITY — Almost 20 years ago, a Pinellas grand jury released a scathing report that condemned this town's government for bickering, infighting, lack of leadership and overall dysfunction.
One improvement the grand jury suggested was to redesign the Kenneth City government by hiring a professional city manager to run the town's daily activities. But the council ignored that and other grand jury recommendations....
SEMINOLE — It's what neighbors have expected and dreaded for months: A developer has officially asked the county to clear the way for building up to 170 homes on the Tides golf course.
Neighbors have been organizing for months to oppose any redevelopment to the 150-acre course at 11832 66th Ave. N in the unincorporated Seminole area. It's bounded on the west by the Intracoastal Waterway. A portion of the course's northern border abuts Boca Ciega Millennium Park. The rest is surrounded by subdivisions with single-family homes....
05/07/13 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — Officials here pride themselves on trying creative, out-of-the-box solutions to issues facing the city.
But their latest innovation — to let a police captain and the fire chief train and compete for the job of city manager — may have collided with the state Constitution, which forbids dual office holding.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi ruled on April 18 that the dual-office-holding clause prohibited a Miami police officer from simultaneously serving as acting city manager, The ban applies, Bondi said in the opinion, even if the "appointment is of a limited and finite duration, without tenure or additional remuneration."...
05/04/13 Human Interest
PINELLAS PARK — Julian Rosario-Valentin was typical of many 5-year-old boys: He adored Buzz Lightyear. He loved to play T-ball. And he wanted to make people laugh.
In September, he complained of a headache. Two days later, on Sept. 8, Julian died of a heart ailment.
Now Pinellas Park officials have agreed to do something they've never done before. They're letting his mother erect a life-sized bronze statue of Julian in one of their parks....
04/30/13 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — Council members here are ready to ban synthetic drugs and herbs that mimic the effects of marijuana and illegal narcotics.
The ban would include the use, possession and sale by businesses as well as individuals and would carry a potentially hefty penalty, especially for retailers: $500 plus court costs and attorney fees per violation. Each package would count as one violation. Police would also seize the drugs....
04/27/13 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — No solid redevelopment plans are on the drawing board, but council members here say they're already seeing a good return on the hundreds of thousands they spent buying almost a block of Park Boulevard.
They've also had their first success with two houses they built a block away from the Park Boulevard property. They're renting one to Rick Incorvia, owner of Sign Doctor. Incorvia, who lives in Odessa, wants a more central location to be nearer his customers. He plans to live upstairs and run his business out of the ground floor of one house. ...
PINELLAS PARK — Construction is set to begin on an upscale apartment complex in the Gateway Centre.
The complex will be built on about 39 acres formerly owned by Hardy Huntley's Gateway LLC. Huntley sold the land in October to Apartments at Gateway of West Palm Beach for about $8.64 million, according to Pinellas property appraiser records. Apartments at Gateway is a corporation registered in Delaware whose registered agent is the Richman Group of Florida, according to state corporate records....