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Poolside partiers cause community angst

There's a new late-night hot spot in New Tampa: the Promenade community pool.

Residents of the cozy West Meadows townhome community are concerned about local teenagers hanging out at the pool after hours, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

They've partied at the pool off and on for the past couple of months, said Jeannine LaGrotteria, who lives down the block. They come after midnight, mostly on the weekends. Homeowners first noticed the parties not by the noise but by the beer cans, cigarette butts and even the occasional condom littering the patio.

"These kids don't even live here, and they are messing up the whole area," LaGrotteria said. "You go there in the morning and want to choke."

With school out, homeowners in the Promenade are worried the parties might become more frequent.

One neighbor called Tampa police about 2:30 a.m. on June 18 to report a gathering of about 30 teens at the pool.

A police officer visited the neighborhood and cleared the pool patio of people but made no arrests and did not file an official report, Tampa police Capt. Bob Guidara said.

Guidara noted that teenagers often sneak into apartment complex and community club pools in the summer and said residents should be more proactive in calling in complaints.

The Promenade is a neighborhood of 120 townhomes at the western end of New Tampa Boulevard.

Chet Benson, the pool manager at the West Meadows Community Club less than a mile up the road from the Promenade, said the club was the site of similar late-night pool parties until it installed security cameras and posted signs warning of 24-hour surveillance last year.

"It has not alleviated the problem completely, but it has helped a lot," he said.

The Promenade's pool is surrounded by a short fence, but the community does not have a gate at its entrance.

LaGrotteria said residents will meet this month to discuss remedies, including a possible entrance gate.

"It's been getting worse," she said of the partying. "I guess word has gotten out: "Let's go to the Promenade.' "

_ John Balz can be reached at (813) 269-5313 or at balzsptimes.com.

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