On June 11, 2020, Saint Petersburg City Council was to have conducted an electronic public meeting to discuss Mayor Kriseman's amendment to the City’s current zoning regulations allowing the future development of Coastal High Hazard Area waterfront properties. Since many federal scientists maintain that these affected areas could be flooded in a Category One hurricane, this issue led to drawing a potential battle line between people with differing visions for how our rapidly growing waterfront city should plan for higher tides under a changing climate.
Advanced public notice of this meeting had already spawned a spontaneous grassroots assemblage of mutli-racial and mutli-generational Southside urban pioneers….some highly educated with great jobs, some not so educated and in need of better jobs or worse yet…any job!! At the last moment when the Mayor asked the City Council to defer discussing the matter to allow for more public education and conversation, many in the Southside chose to believe that his action was a display of an accurate and fully appropriate sensitivity to our country’s and our city’s currently very fragile and challenging conditions resulting not only from the Covid-19 outbreak, but also from as a with the increased racial sensitives resulting from the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd and subsequent rioting in Minneapolis, MN.
After all, still not far removed from many Southside residents memories is that their DEUCES business and entertainment district. was lost in the Tropicana Field exchange for promises of future support in rebuilding their once vibrant community. Additionally, we all had just witnessed how the City’s pier project costs grew from an initial 50+ million-dollar projection to its 92+ cost. Could we now trust again that the City’s latest plans would somehow be of any actual benefit to the lives of we Southsider's?
Taking advantage of the Mayor’s time extension, we then began first by researching the St. Petersburg Downtown Master Waterfront Plan We were concerned that there may be some possible areas that could now be construed to have influenced the outcome of this plan prepared in those years leading up to its release June 4, 2105.
We did in fact discover some areas that seemed to represent a possible bias in attracting the construction of many more downtown type of high-rise residential units while also pushing many more high-income visitors-tourists deeper into the Salt Creek Marina District just to the northern boundary of Bartlett Park and Old Southeast residential neighborhoods. It appeared to also offer little or no direct efforts or emphasis to also really improve the lives of those residents living in these challenged neighborhoods areas.
When on October 9, 2020 City Council approved the amendments to the City’s current zoning regulations of the waterfront properties in the Coastal High Hazard Area, we then had to face the reality that in fact what the residents were really in need of was…
City Planning with Equal Social & Environmental Justice
In the future, Southsider’s must become true Planning Partners, NOT just Rubber Stampers!!
The City Council in the FUTURE should also now always ensure that its land use and economic development planning process also includes a broadening of its vision from NOT just being based upon…
VIEWING or LIVING NEAR TAMPA BAY,
but now also upon a vision for improving ALL of its residents’ lives!
IT IS NOW TIME TO FINALLY TOSS a ROCK of CHANGE
in the SOUTHSIDE's LAKE MAGGIORE SO...
…as the ripples of change expand outwardly northeast along Salt Creek, not only will the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, one of Florida’s most valuable tropical assets, be better improved and protected, but our Southside Greenway plan will then serve to protect and enhance Saint Petersburg’s most valuable slithering green and blue waterway connecting with the Bayboro Harbor and Innovation District. These actions will also greatly improve our community's contribution to the water quality in Bayboro Harbor, a key component in the much larger nationally recognized and important estuarian system, the Middle Tampa Bay Watershed.
Historically the early Saint Petersburg settlers traveled by canoe from the Bayboro Harbor through Bartlett Park Pond to Salt Lake (now Lake Maggiore) then ending at Clam Bayou in Gulfport. When this waterway's natural characteristics are now improved, the 290 acres of the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve surrounding the south and western shores of Lake Maggoire and its northern shore with the Del Homes Park will become a featured Eco attraction of our newly developed concept of the Southside Greenway.
As it then travels northward on the Deuces Live Trail (22nd Street South) through the heart of what was our Saint Petersburg’s historical African American neighborhoods business district called the Deuces, it will then connect with our City's fun and exciting urban educational and entertainment experiences to then be better able to attract the ever-expanding international Urban Ecotourism travelers.
With the ripples of change expanding outwardly from Lake Maggorie, all Southside residents, home and/or business property owners will enjoy increased property values, improved economic, and educational opportunities…..and maybe just as important…can feel and truly believe that they too have something for which to be proud!!