St. Petersburg's $90 million water cost stabilization fund is designed to help offset the increase in water bills for city residents. But the city's cautious investment strategy yielded limited returns. So council member Jim Kennedy led an effort to rewrite the city's investment protocols to allow $20 million of the fund to be put into the stock market....
03/02/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The distinct histories and architecture of the city's neighborhoods have been credited with fueling its recent renaissance, but a battle has started over what kind of balance to strike between preservation and development.
At issue is a proposed overhaul of the city's historic preservation ordinance — part of a 176-page package recently approved by a city board. Among the revisions: decreasing the number of property owners in a neighborhood that would have to agree before an application for local landmark status could be submitted....
03/01/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Forty-two seconds was all it took for Brian Auld to make a bad first impression on greater St. Petersburg.
At a City Council meeting in December, the newly installed president of the Tampa Bay Rays too quickly dispensed with a council member's complicated question. And that helped sink the proposed plan to allow the team to look at stadium sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties....
02/24/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is lobbying the City Council on a revised agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays with the hope of securing enough votes to allow the team to look at possible stadium sites in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
But the mayor won't bring the new deal to a council meeting unless he thinks he has a chance at success, mayoral spokesman Ben Kirby said Tuesday....
After four months, a truce in the battle of the 15-million-gallon water tank has been struck.
On Thursday, City Council approved the newest addition to the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility by a 6-2 vote.
Eckerd College had opposed the 50-foot-plus tall tank, fearing it would be smelly and unsightly. The $3.1 million project was delayed twice while college officials, neighborhood residents and city engineers sparred....
A stretch of the Pinellas Trail from 43rd to 49th Streets S will soon be monitored by 16 cameras after the City Council approved $125,000 for the project on Thursday.
The cameras, which would operate 24-hours using infrared technology, will help deter crime along a stretch of trail that witnessed a rash of robberies in the last few years.
Police will be able to monitor the cameras from their squad cars or anywhere with an internet connection....
02/19/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — If nothing else, a City Council workshop Thursday confirmed that St. Petersburg's approach to the Tampa Bay Rays is running on two distinct paths.
Council members, hoping to keep the team in town, kicked around ideas for financing a new stadium — but just in St. Petersburg.
Neither the Rays nor Mayor Rick Kriseman attended the meeting. They are still trying to negotiate terms for letting the team search for stadium sites anywhere in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties....
ST. PETERSBURG — The city's latest idea for breathing life into "dead" properties: Ask a judge to force them to auction.
The largely untested plan being put forth by Mayor Rick Kriseman could be used on more than 400 properties in legal limbo sprinkled across nearly every city neighborhood. No one can buy the properties because it's unclear who owns them, or the owner is unreachable or unresponsive. The Midtown neighborhood, one of the city's poorest, has the greatest concentration, stymieing reinvestment there, officials say....
02/16/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — City staff won't help and Mayor Rick Kriseman says it's premature, but the City Council is going forward with a workshop later this week to talk about building a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The memo Kriseman sent council members late Friday — ordering city staffers to stop preparing for the Thursday workshop — won't preclude council members from starting to plan for the future, council Chairman Charlie Gerdes said....
02/13/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Maybe the City Council won't talk about a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium on Thursday, after all.
Two months after the council thwarted Mayor Rick Kriseman's plans to let the Rays look for a new stadium site in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, Kriseman on Friday complicated the council's plans for a workshop next week to study options for a new stadium in St. Petersburg....
Tackling the complex challenges of climate change--rising seas, stronger hurricanes, bigger floods--will be the task of a newly-formed St. Petersburg City Council committee: Energy, Natural Resources and Sustainability.
Brainchild of council member Darden Rice, a former Sierra Club organizer, the committee's first order of business will be to undertake an assessment of carbon emissions in the city, then craft a plan to reduce them....
Mayor Rick Kriseman touted his progressive bona fides Thursday night at a meeting of the Greater Pinellas Democratic Club in front of a friendly crowd.
After a short speech listing the accomplishments of his administration in its first year, Kriseman spent most of his 44 minutes at the podium fielding questions from the crowd of about 150 at the Banquet Masters on Ulmerton Road in unincorporated Clearwater. ...
02/06/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — So should the city spend its money on publicizing the arts scene or give cash to local artists to make art?
The issue has been bubbling in city politics for months.
Mayor Rick Kriseman's philosophy for helping artists hinges on a simple principle: find wealthy buyers and bring them to the city to spend their money. We're trying to shift from subsidy to sustainability," Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin told the City Council on Thursday of the mayor's $200,000 arts-funding plan. "We believe by bringing these patrons here, it's one of the best, most profound things we can do."...
St. Petersburg---Charlie Gerdes has a solution for the embattled Carter G. Woodson Museum: the city should buy it.
"It's my belief, and I plan on taking action sooner rather than later, that his property needs to be owned by the city of St. Petersburg," Gerdes said at Thursday's council meeting.
Gerdes, chairman of the City Council, floated the idea during a discussion of whether the city should seek to protect the museum at 2240 Ninth Ave. S with a historic designation status....
02/05/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Hoping it is ending more than half a decade of searching for money, the City Council on Thursday signed off on a deal with Pinellas County to finally raise a total of $70 million for a new police headquarters. But several council members said they still weren't convinced that the city will need to spend the entire sum.
The council voted 7-1 on the agreement Mayor Rick Kriseman negotiated with Pinellas to redirect $20.2 million more in Penny for Pinellas funds to the project to supplement $50 million the city had already identified. The County Commission must approve the plan and is expected to vote Tuesday....