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Residents of Jungle Prada to consider options for pier

(ran East, South editions)

The city will host a public forum Thursday on options for repairing the Jungle Prada pier. Closed in 2002 for public safety reasons, the pier could reopen in months if residents green-light the city's plan to build a wooden pier over the existing concrete.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at Saffron's Caribbean Cuisine, 1700 Park St. N, with Mayor Rick Baker and City Council member Richard Kriseman expected to attend. Capital improvements director John Green will lay out the options for replacing the concrete pier or building a new, wooden pier, and cite the costs and benefits of each.

Two neighborhoods _ Jungle Prada and, to a lesser extent, Jungle Terrace _ have a stake in the outcome. Locals have long enjoyed fishing or simply walking along the pier at the edge of Jungle Prada Park, or as a vantage point for watching July Fourth fireworks displays across the Intracoastal.

But the city closed the pier two years ago, saying that the concrete had cracked. Saltwater had rusted the reinforcing steel inside it, and chunks of the pier had broken off.

The two options are the same as those presented by the city in February. Either plan would be paid for by Penny for Pinellas funds. The concrete pier, designed for motor vehicles unloading ferry boats, could be replaced. That plan would cost about $420,000 for construction; design and permitting would bring the cost to about $511,000, Green said, using up all of the available funds for the project.

Another option offers a wooden pier built less than one foot above the existing concrete, with holes drilled in the old pier to make room for pilings.

This way the city doesn't need the permits required when a structure goes outside its original footprint. The city has recently produced a design plan for a wooden pier, holding the cost below $200,000.

That leaves room for Jungle Prada Park to get trail lighting, benches, picnic shelters, and improvements to boat ramps and parking.

Jungle Prada president Paul Traxler said that neighbors seem evenly divided between the choices. "There are residents who really like the idea of what was there originally, and for historical purposes feel it should always be concrete," Traxler said. "My wife and I don't care. We just want a pier."

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A grants review team begins deliberations Friday from 19 neighborhoods asking for more than $307,000 in Neighborhood Partnership grants. Only $200,000 is available. This year's applicants included five who have not been awarded grants before: the Airport Association, Azalea, Bayou Bonita, Like Oaks, and Riviera Bay. The review committee makes funding recommendations, which are forwarded to the City Council.

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Greater Pinellas Point will decide Tuesday whether to add two speed humps to its traffic plan.

After approving the plan in 2003, residents petitioned for another hump on 60th Avenue S between Eighth and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets; and on 64th Avenue S between 20th and 21st streets.

Neighborhood transportation manager Michael Frederick will supervise the vote at Greater Pinellas Point's meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. (7 p.m. social), Bay Vista Recreation Center, 7000 Fourth St. S.

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Central Oak Park meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, an hour earlier than usual, for a covered dish picnic behind the St. Petersburg Public Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N. The Central Oak Park Neighborhood Association invites residents to bring a side dish and help dedicate the Jorgensen Lake observation deck, built by neighbors with the help of a city grant.

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