Neighbors are getting serious about improving their community, and several associations and city staffers are trying some fresh approaches to old problems to assist the effort.
Board members from the umbrella association for the Bon-Air/St. Anthony's, Euclid, South Crescent Lake and Round Lake neighborhoods have recognized the need for upgrading their housing stock. The areas are close to downtown and are primarily historical.
Although the city offers improvement help to low- and moderate-income families through Paint St. Pete Proud and Operation Paintbrush, it overlooks those in other income levels.
Through Operation Commitment, some additional money has become available; however, association president Wayne Atherholt points out there is a lot of paperwork and time involved when using city money.
The Uptown Association board may have found a quicker way to improve the appearance of the four neighborhoods by offering privately funded $100 incentives to owners who paint the exterior of their homes or rental buildings.
The incentive is open to all owners who paint with colors approved by the Neighborhood Design Review Board. To create a Victorian gingerbread look to the area, the board is encouraging people to paint structures three colors.
The number of incentives awarded will depend on the amount of money raised.
To qualify for the $100 cash-back program, a homeowner or owner of a rental building also must provide before and after exterior pictures to the association.
A new Uptown Resource Center should open in about 30 days at Fifth Avenue N near 10th Street. Space is being provided by building owner Mark Taber. Some office equipment has been donated by St. Anthony's Hospital and Abrasive Industries, but there remains a need for supplies and volunteers. Atherholt said the center will provide an association office and a base for the two community police officers.
He also envisioned a tool bank; however, the cost of liability insurance has created a problem. Atherholt said the Old Southeast Neighborhood Association has the only tool bank and is paying $2,000 annually for liability insurance. Although that expense is covered by matching grant funding this year, the association must pay it next year.
Another innovative move by the four neighborhoods was buying two 10-second advertisements on the recently released Downtown Core videotape promoting St. Petersburg. Atherholt said it's just another way to invite new residents into the area and show them what values they can find for their investment dollar.
Some associations have problems getting enough residents to accept leadership positions at election time. Crescent Heights may have found the solution by attracting three husband-wife teams to fill positions.
Recently installed officers include president, Diane Purssell; first vice presidents, Mike and Mary Jo Ansel; second vice president, Chris Jackson; treasurer, Anne Jackson; and secretaries, Don and Valerie Shuey.
North Shore Neighborhood Association faced a familiar challenge of increasing membership this year. The group represents 2,500 households but had only 250 paid members in January.
Board members wanted to send the newsletter to all 2,500 homes to recruit more members but didn't have the money. Chase Manhattan Bank of Florida provided a solution by underwriting the costs. Paid members will receive the eight-page newsletter monthly; other residents will receive it every other month.
Shore Acres Civic Association tried a different recruiting approach. It mailed out three copies of the newsletter to all paid membersone to keep, two to give away.
Members of Crescent Lake Neighborhood Association have produced the first known neighborhood color brochure to promote its area to new neighbors, real estate agents and prospective home buyers. The handout includes neighborhood history, pictures of architecture and amenities, a map of association boundaries and city programs the organization has adopted.
Immediate Past President Judy Zamanillo said the association received $150 from the city through the Great Neighborhood Partnership Grant Program to begin the brochure, but the balance of money was provided by the association and contributing commercial supporters.
While adults are busy getting involved in their associations, Walter Fuller Community Center is offering something new for neighborhood children throughout the Tampa Bay area.
It's called Club Saturday and offers music, dancing and sports activities. It's happening again tonight from 7:30 to 11:30.
Teen Program Supervisor Joe Memmo said Club Saturday gives children ages 9-15 a safe, fun evening out. Parents know where the kids are and know they're being supervised.
He said about 25 attended last weekend's opening night and most were from the Tyrone, Northeast and Bear Creek areas. As word spreads, he expects that number to grow, but the center at 7892 26th Ave. N will hold only 150.
Tonight's theme is sportsfest and includes a pingpong tournament, hockey, basketball and dancing. The fee is $5.50, and parents are asked to sign their children in and out. To receive a Club Saturday membership card, you must attend twice. For information, call 893-7443.
For those older but still youthful sports-minded adults, Greg Ramsey, supervisor of Lake Vista Recreation Center, is starting an "Over 35 Basketball League." At 37, he said, he has a hard time competing with the high school and college kids who run up and down the court tirelessly, and thought others may have the same feelings.
He wants to attract teams of 10 players who would play 10 games during the league. Each team player would pay a $10 registration fee plus $3 rec fee to cover the expense of certified referees and trophies. Games will be played at Lake Vista, 1401 62nd Ave. S. For information, call 893-7744.
Have a good week, neighbors!