1. Breaking News

Pinellas, YMCA sign joint agreement for possible St. Petersburg middle school

Pinellas County school officials have announced plans for a new school at a the former site of Riviera Middle School, seen here in 2009 when it was being razed. The school would be for grades 6-8 and contain a YMCA facility.
Pinellas County school officials have announced plans for a new school at a the former site of Riviera Middle School, seen here in 2009 when it was being razed. The school would be for grades 6-8 and contain a YMCA facility.
Published Sep. 28, 2017

The Pinellas County school district and the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg have agreed to ground rules for how both parties will work toward opening a partnership middle school and YMCA facility on the old Riviera Middle lot in northeast St. Petersburg.

The agreement, approved by the Pinellas County School Board and signed last week, divvies up financial responsibilities for the district and the YMCA. Both parties will use the same design professional, which will be selected through the school district's process.

"It's just a promise that we will both do our part to get to that result, which is a school and Y in 2021," said Clint Herbic, the district's associate superintendent of operational services.

The YMCA will be responsible for the cost of the design and construction of the gymnasium, cafeteria/multi-purpose space (excluding a commercial kitchen), pool and a space for activities like robotics or woodworking, said David Jezek, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. Some of those spaces will be used exclusively by the school during the school day.

"The time is right. The partnership is right," Jezek said. "We're confident that whatever we develop will have a lasting impact for decades to come."

The YMCA will also cover the costs of shared facilities, like parking areas and utilities, though the School Board is expected to pay for liability and property insurance coverage. The School Board will be responsible for building the school facilities and expects to spend $15 million to $17 million on the project.

The agreement does not guarantee the project, nor does it stop one party from going forward without the other. If the school board determines it will not build a school, the YMCA could opt to lease the land from the district for its facility. The 16-acre parcel on 62nd Avenue N, three blocks east of First Street N, has been appraised at $5 million, according to the agreement.

Representatives from the school district and the YMCA will meet up next week to discuss what will be needed in the facility to satisfy each party.

Jezek doesn't have a dollar figure in mind for what to spend on the facility. He still estimates it will be larger than the Bardmoor Y (36,000 sq ft) but smaller than the Jim and Heather Gills Y (55,000 sq ft).

Jezek he would like to see the YMCA facility open by the organization's centennial year, 2020. The school has a prospective opening date of August 1, 2021.

Northeast St. Petersburg residents surveyed by the YMCA were overwhelmingly in favor of a YMCA facility in the area. Many have complained about overcrowding at Meadowlawn Middle and have advocated for a partnership middle school.

"That's probably one of the ages we need to be more engaged, particularly with our teens," Jezek said. "Creating something there to really create some energy and excitement for middle school students to be in a very safe and enjoyable environment (with) unique opportunities is what that's about."


  1. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, left, and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody were appointed to the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice by Attorney General Bob Barr. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody will also join a commission that will “explore modern issues affecting law enforcement," according to the Department of Justice.
  2. Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy Alton Smith helps recover items Wednesday from Lake Twitt in Odessa during a dive team practice. Divers used the drill to search for evidence of a forgotten African American cemetery nearby. [CHRIS URSO   |  Times]
    Keystone Memorial Cemetery was established by a freed slave and disappeared in the 1950s. The dive team chose Lake Twitt to do its monthly practice.
  3. The northbound lanes of I-275 were closed for more than four hours early Tuesday morning as troopers investigated a deadly crash. [Florida Highway Patrol]
    Police pulled over their vehicle for driving the wrong way on Fifth Avenue S, but the driver took off and crashed shortly after.
  4. Booking photo of Tyler Andrew Garrison, accused of approaching a stranger in downtown St. Pete, cutting him on his jaw and demanding his wallet. The victim suffered cut that required 20 stitches, police said. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    The victim suffered a cut to his jaw that required 20 stitches, according to St. Petersburg police.
  5. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
File photo of a Firefighter/Paramedics unit from Clearwater Fire Rescue taken on 4/18/17. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    The election comes at a pivotal time for unions.
  6. Joseph Hernandez Hall is home to the University of Florida's chemistry department, where a faculty member recently resigned after officials discovered he failed to disclose his strong ties to China. While at UF, the faculty member also held positions at two Chinese universities, including vice president and dean. The faculty member was not named in a report obtained Tuesday from the Florida Legislature. [University of Florida]
    They also collected grant money from the U.S. government while never disclosing their outside work in China.
  7. The four candidates for Clearwater mayor in 2020. Clockwise from the top left: Frank Hibbard, Morton Myers, Bill Jonson and Elizabeth "Sea Turtle" Drayer. [[Frank Hibbard (Courtesy of Hibbard); Morton Myers [Douglas R. Clifford | Times]; Bill Jonson [Douglas R. Clifford | Times]; Elizabeth "Sea Turtle" Drayer; (Courtesy of Drayer)]
    We might learn a great deal about a key election in Tampa Bay.
  8. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, center, vehemently declines to turn over the key to the city to members of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla at downtown's Lykes Gaslight Square Park on Tuesday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The mayor puts her own stamp on the Tampa tradition with schoolchildren and her office dog, Alcadesa.
  9. The area will be closed to drivers headed north and south from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. through Friday.
  10. A new report to the Florida Legislature details the investigation that led to the forced resignations of six Moffitt Cancer Center employees in December, including president and CEO Dr. Alan List. [Moffitt Cancer Center]
    The money came from the “Thousand Talents Program” and went to personal accounts set up in China.