Julie Kliegman, Times Staff Writer

Julie Kliegman

Julie Kliegman covers Tarpon Springs, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor and East Lake. Previously, she wrote for PolitiFact and PolitiFact Florida. The New Jersey native came to the Times in July 2013 after earning a bachelor's degree in journalism and Spanish from Northwestern University.

Phone: (727) 445-4159

E-mail: jkliegman@tampabay.com

Twitter: @jmkliegman

  1. Park Boulevard bridge to close for repairs Sept. 29


    SEMINOLE — Drivers coming to and from Redington Shores and Indian Shores are in for a longer trip as of Sept. 29, when Pinellas County is set to close the Park Boulevard bridge for a month during construction.

    The drawbridge will stay open while workers repair and upgrade the machinery underneath so boats can still pass through the waterway, as required by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Penny for Pinellas-funded project will cost $840,972, the county estimates....

    Pinellas County plans to close the Park Boulevard bridge on Sept. 29 for maintenance until Oct. 28. A county engineer said the repairs, which the county estimates will cost $840,972, should mean fewer drawbridge breakdowns in the future.
  2. Condo owners being forced out look to legislators for help


    Condo owners statewide say they're being forced from their homes by bulk buyers and former Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, was one of few who saw it coming.

    "Either I'm onto something, or I'm crazy," he thought of his lone vote in opposition to a 2007 condo law change.

    Seven years later, Fitzgerald is far from alone. Legislators, lawyers, the governor and his challenger's campaign recently called for change to protect condo owners....

    A law enacted in 2007 is allowing investors to buy up the majority of a condominium project and then force the remaining owners to sell so that it can be turned into apartments.
  3. Controversial townhouses to add to Oldsmar's residential growth

    Real Estate

    OLDSMAR —When Nicole Wade moved into a new house on Cypress Bend 14 years ago with her husband and children, a large swath of green space lay beyond their back yard, just outside the confines of the Woods at Forest Lakes community.

    One day, Wade figured, a convenience store or gas station might crop up on that land at the intersection of Pine Avenue N and Forest Lakes Boulevard. Instead, the City Council voted to rezone the parcel last year and 26 two-story townhouses are about to rise in her poolside view....

    Work continues on the Tuscany Woods project in Oldsmar. Tuscany Woods, along with Hayes Park Village and Wellington Estates, is one of Oldsmar’s first signs of post-recession residential development, an official said. Together, the projects will give the city about 150 new housing units.
  4. Tarpon Springs property tax rate expected to stay the same

    Local Government

    TARPON SPRINGS — Property owners can expect the city's tax rate to stay the same for the fifth consecutive year.

    Taxpayers would owe $5.45 for every $1,000 of assessed, taxable value. But many would see larger bills next year because property values in the city in general are rising. Tarpon's increased tax revenue will go toward operating expenses and will also help reduce the city's reliance on reserves, said City Manager Mark LeCouris....

  5. Rep. Zimmermann calls on Gov. Scott to help condo owners

    Real Estate

    DUNEDIN — Condominium owners at Madison Oaks in Palm Harbor could be the latest to lose their homes because of a 2007 loophole in state law.

    Stephanie Krasowski, who started Floridians Against Condo Takeover, and other Madison Oaks residents could lose their deeds and be forced to give up their homes as early as Sept. 5 after a yearlong legal battle. They would join owners of at least 223 condos across Florida who have been forced from their homes, she said....

  6. Tarpon Springs to open third fire station Oct. 1


    TARPON SPRINGS — Fire Chief Richard Butcher has heard talk of adding a new fire station north of the Anclote River since he joined the department in 1978.

    Thirty-six years later, city commissioners moved forward with plans to open Station 71 on Oct. 1.

    For years, Fire Rescue has responded too slowly to emergency calls in that area, Butcher said. Only two bridges in town cross the Anclote, so traffic means it often takes 12 or 13 minutes for firefighters to arrive at a scene. That's well above the 7½-minute average the city must maintain for 90 percent of calls....

  7. Tarpon Springs crossbowmaker faces lawsuits over severed thumbs


    William Meredith raised his friend's crossbow for the first time and fired twice. He moved his target back 15 yards and shot again.

    This time the bow's string cut through his left thumb, shaving off the top half an inch.

    "It was like cutting warm butter," said Meredith, who works in commercial janitorial management in McKinney, Texas.

    He vowed never to pick up a crossbow again. He tries not to even look at them....

  8. East Lake Youth Sports faces challenges under new oversight


    EAST LAKE — Extra cash is a new phenomenon for East Lake Youth Sports Association. The nonprofit volunteers who once fought to keep up with monthly payments on its fields now eye long-overdue maintenance projects, lower participation fees and a new lacrosse program.

    The change in mind-set came last month when the County Commission approved a recreation tax that will generate an estimated $536,850 in revenue for fiscal year 2015....

  9. Prominent Tarpon couple dies in murder-suicide


    TARPON SPRINGS — Residents are shocked by the deaths of a locally prominent couple.

    Tarpon Springs Cultural Center marketing director Genevieve Crosby was shot by her husband Monday in a murder-suicide, the Sevier County (Tenn.) Sheriff's Office said.

    Crosby, 48, and her husband, Richard, 52, were staying with family in a rental cabin near the Smoky Mountains between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, sheriff's spokesman Capt. Jeff McCarter said. Deputies were called there about 11 a.m....

    The parents and daughter of Genevieve Crosby were on the trip.
  10. Oldsmar's property tax rate to remain flat

    Local Government

    OLDSMAR — Property owners can expect the city's tax rate to stay the same for the seventh consecutive year, according to the proposed budget. The city has not raised the tax rate in 25 years.

    Property owners would still pay $4.05 for every $1,000 of assessed, taxable value. But since property values are projected to rise 7.8 percent overall, many people will see a larger bill.

    The proposed budget of $28.7 million would be a 5.7 percent decrease from fiscal year 2014, which ends Sept. 30. The extra $232,000 in property taxes will go toward the city's reserve funds, said Al Braithwaite, Oldsmar's administrative services director....

  11. Oldsmar, firefighters resolve pension impasse

    Local Government

    OLDSMAR — A yearlong dispute ended at Tuesday night's City Council meeting during a bathroom break.

    City Manager Bruce Haddock and Jason Schwabe, who represents Palm Harbor and Oldsmar firefighters at the International Association of Firefighters Local 2980, ended the impasse over pension negotiations for Oldsmar's 13 rank-and-file firefighters.

    The city initially wanted to freeze its pension plan for current firefighters and switch them over to the Florida Retirement System. They would keep what they have earned so far, but would have to work several more years than planned before retiring in order to get a pension from the state....

  12. Oldsmar council votes to allow tattoo parlors downtown


    OLDSMAR — The City Council voted Tuesday to allow tattoo and piercing businesses downtown.

    "I'm excited," said resident Jillian Langley Santiago, who has been working with the city to open a shop on St. Petersburg Drive E, where she has paid rent on a storefront since February. "I'm ready to open my business. We just have to get our other licensing done and open up.

    Previously, an ordinance for the downtown area grouped tattoo and piercing businesses with pawnshops and gun shops, which the original ordinance described as signs of "neighborhood deterioration."...

    Jillian Langley Santiago, paying rent on a downtown Oldsmar storefront since February, is now clear to open her tattoo shop.
  13. Failed funding puts public housing renovations on hold in Tarpon Springs

    Real Estate

    TARPON SPRINGS — Rosanna Corbo, 45, has spent the last decade trying to get her life in order. It's hard to focus, though, when you have to slap cockroaches off the toilet just to sit down.

    That's what it's like at Mango Circle, a dilapidated public housing complex off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. After a short stint in a homeless shelter two years ago, Corbo took to the duplex with an injured rotator cuff that kept her out of work, her two youngest children and an unfinished high school education....

    Teresa Mosley sweeps the porch of her Mango Circle apartment while her mother, Anne Gooden, watches Mosley’s kids, from left, Zay, Zyrie and Neavean Gooden, and friend Sabastien Gonzalez.
  14. Condo owners meet to discuss fears of losing their homes

    Real Estate

    EAST LAKE — More than 50 condominium owners gathered to voice concerns about losing their condominiums Thursday night at East Lake Methodist Church.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, organized the meeting and a bipartisan group of representatives from three counties joined him.

    A 2007 loophole in Florida law allows an investor who buys more than 80 percent of the condos in a complex to force other residents to sell at low prices. Residents are on the hook for thousands of dollars in mortgage payments even after moving away....

  15. National Park Service recognizes Tarpon Springs Greek district


    TARPON SPRINGS — Sponge divers, spanakopita and the annual Epiphany celebration have long added to Tampa Bay's charm, but now the historic Greektown district is getting federal recognition.

    The National Park Service has listed the district on its National Register of Historic Places as a traditional cultural property, which is a first for Florida.

    "The Tarpon Springs community has functioned as a center of commerce and trade for early Greek immigrants since the 1900s," Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in a news release Wednesday....