01/23/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The field of eight proposed concepts for a rebirth of the city's Pier has been narrowed by one.
A six-member selection committee eliminated a small St. Petersburg firm whose proposal had been labeled "difficult to understand" in a technical report that assessed each idea.
Residents will get a chance to hear from the remaining design teams in February and pick their top three choices in a survey. Their selections will be among the factors considered by the Pier selection committee when it makes its final ranking in March....
01/21/15 Human Interest
Homemade signs touting tax-preparation services have begun popping up on street corners.
Choose wisely, the Internal Revenue Services warns.
The small band of volunteers who help taxpayers at a downtown St. Petersburg social service agency have seen it all, including those victimized by unscrupulous preparers, some peddling their services door-to-door or establishing temporary storefront offices that vanish after April 15....
01/21/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — When the creators of the Pier design eventually spurned by voters suggested a pristine underwater garden as the project's centerpiece, environmentalists howled.
They ridiculed the nearly $900,000 feature, saying it wasn't feasible in Tampa Bay. Not surprisingly, the design known as the Lens faced permitting hurdles.
Now the city is considering a new batch of ideas for the $46 million Pier project and scrutinizing them for environmental and permitting issues....
01/16/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The city has released a report analyzing the feasibility of the eight concepts proposed for a new or renovated pier.
A critical finding concerns the budget.
However, Raul Quintana, the city's architect, said he is neither surprised nor worried that most of the concepts appear to exceed the $33 million construction budget.
"The bottom line is, these are initial concepts," he said. "The duty of the selection committee is to select the most qualified team with the best initial concept, the best direction for the city to proceed, so that when we make a selection, we can then begin to look at the design and bring it back within budget." ...
01/15/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The last time the city tried to revive the Pier, the process became a morass of accusations, petitions, lawsuits and, some would add, misinformation.
City leaders not only found themselves outmaneuvered by a couple of grass roots organizations that got their message out, but also pilloried on social media.
"We did not do well with informing the public about the Lens," Michael Connors, the city's public works administrator, said, referring to the Lens Pier design that voters resoundingly rejected more than a year ago....
ST. PETERSBURG — Lifelong Catholic Martha Jean Lorenzo admits she has struggled with the issue of same-sex marriage.
"I do go back and forth. I'm not always clear, but I don't think as a person who believes in a God who has compassion, that I have the right to deny a person from sharing that love with another person or a family," the Tampa resident said.
"I'm having to make myself realize that what I knew as a traditional family has changed. I cannot rationalize keeping children in an orphanage or in an abusive situation if they can be raised by a gay couple."...
12/27/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The teams proposed splash parks and lagoons and touted sustainability, but the reality of delivering a pier that satisfies both the must-haves and appearance demanded by the public could be a financial challenge.
The group that wins the contract to design St. Petersburg's new pier, or to renovate the closed inverted pyramid, will have to work with a $33 million construction budget, the major share of what Mayor Rick Kriseman has said is a firm $46 million project allocation. About $4 million has already been spent from the original $50 million budget for a design that was eventually rejected in a referendum....
12/25/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Nestled on perches in and around the downtown waterfront, eight whimsical yellow-throated warblers wait to be found.
There's Brian, wielding a paint brush in his beak near the Museum of Fine Arts' columned entrance.
Beatrice peeks inquisitively down on shoppers crossing the threshold to Bruce Watters Jewelers.
And spot the rest of the bronze flock outside the Dalí Museum, at Straub Park, the Vinoy, the St. Petersburg Museum of History and the Birchwood. ...
12/19/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Some Snell Isle residents are upset about the new traffic calming in their neighborhood and say it is hazardous, inconvenient and overly restrictive.
Snell Isle is the first neighborhood in the city to implement the strategy that combines medians with curbs extending at an angle into the street from homeowners' properties.
"It's like threading a needle to go through those things with the median there," said John Rogers, who lives on a cross street....
12/19/14 Human Interest
To practice for his principal role back home in Florida, Marquis Floyd watched and followed a video of dance routines in a studio at his college in Massachusetts.
A few days ago, the Boston Conservatory dance major returned to Clearwater prepared to jump into his part as Michael in The Family Blessing, a new production debuting at the Mahaffey Theater today.
The 21/2 hour show follows Michael through a dance-filled dream sequence that takes him from the streets of Harlem to Cuba, Mexico, South Africa, West Africa and India. In the end, he realizes that the happiness he sought — "the blessing" — was right at home, in the love of family and community. ...
12/15/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — After six years of discussions and the selection and contentious rejection of a much-reviled design for a new pier, St. Petersburg is back for a second try.
On Monday, eight design teams offered fresh ways to look at the closed inverted pyramid, with some pitching an entirely new shape for the iconic landmark.
The teams competing for the $46 million product, with $33 million targeted for construction, are proposing concepts that include new features such as a waterfall, lagoons and terraces....
Simon Chapiro reverently touched the edge of his prayer shawl to the Torah scroll and brought its fringe to his lips.
He then said a blessing and read the Torah portion of Jacob's encounter with an angel.
At 85, Chapiro was celebrating his bar mitzvah, the coming-of-age ritual customary for 13-year-old Jewish boys. It didn't matter that he was now a great-grandfather....
12/13/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The eight design teams competing to give the city a new or refurbished Pier will deliver their concepts Monday, offering insight into their vision, theme and approach for the landmark.
A six-member selection team appointed by Mayor Rick Kriseman will rank the finalists in March, but before then, St. Petersburg residents will get to weigh in with their top three preferences....
It was a decade of three major hijackings, but for most Americans, terrorism still seemed a world away. One is particularly remembered for the daring rescue that followed at Uganda's Entebbe Airport.
Sassy Reuven, then a member of the Israel Defense Forces, participated in that July 4, 1976, rescue in Uganda, ruled by dictator Idi Amin. Reuven will be in Pinellas County on Monday to talk about "Operation Thunderbolt," which saved the lives of more than 100 hostages. ...
11/30/14 Human Interest
After more than a year of trying, Bill DeYoung has won permission to erect a memorial for the 35 people who perished in the Sunshine Skyway bridge disaster more than three decades ago.
That hurdle overcome, DeYoung, a St. Petersburg native and author of a book about the accident that sent a Greyhound bus, six cars and a pickup plummeting into Tampa Bay one stormy May morning in 1980, now must raise money to build and maintain the proposed monument. It's a task he embraces....