The Deuces Live District would be a prominent part of the proposed Southside Greenway project.
A project seeking to create a stronger, more deliberate connection between St. Petersburg’s diverse neighborhoods and ecosystems is gaining momentum.
The Southside Greenway project builds on existing infrastructure and previous local initiatives with the goal of promoting the city’s economic, environmental and social health by improving bike and pedestrian transportation, generating economic activity and enhancing community identity, among other things. Its key initial focus is linking the North to South Deuces Live Trail (22nd Street South) to the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve surrounding Lake Maggiore adjoining the Dell Holmes Park and ultimately leading to the Salt Creek on its way to Bayboro Harbour and the Innovation District. However, when fully realized, the Greenway would also connect with the Pinellas and Skyway Trails, among other areas.
“The interest is really in social justice and environmental justice,” said Charlie Guy, a self-described “concerned citizen with a passion” who has been a key driver of the Greenway, which he hopes will bring more vibrancy and economic growth to communities like The Deuces.
Over the years, Guy said, the city has done bits and pieces in terms of addressing the idea of a Greenway, but the efforts haven’t been completely cohesive.
“It’s like finding a pile of pick-up sticks because not all projects were connected into one concept,” he said. “We just want to organize them.”
Recently, Guy got some good news when he learned that the Greenway project was listed first on a list of 10 countywide priority projects in the Forward Pinellas Active Transportation Plan, though details like funding and timelines haven’t been established.
“We don’t have to push as hard as we thought,” said Guy, who is encouraged that there’s already support in place for the project. “People believe in it and it can really have an impact on lives.”
Once plans get a little more solidified, Guy has plenty of ideas for the Greenway, which he believes has something for everyone and will help tell the city’s story. He’d like to see signage installed so people can learn about the different areas, along with a marketing campaign to get the word out. Additionally, he’d like to establish partnerships with schools, museums and nonprofit and social service organizations. He also spoke of possibly working with Coast Bike Share so people can rent bikes and explore the city’s gems.
Ultimately, Guy hopes to see the Greenway develop into a destination like ones in other cities like Atlanta and Boston for both local residents and people outside the area. He envisions using it to help develop an international ecotourism brand where people can travel by bike or by water to destinations such as local museums, restaurants, arts districts and The Pier.
“We’ve got a gold mine sitting here,” he said. “This is just adding some icing on the cake.”