A packed house of CONA representatives voted at the February meeting on its priorities for 2006. As will be obvious from the list below, many of these issues are not items that will be solved in a year. However, it is very helpful to understand what the neighborhoods consider to be the most important issues so we can focus on them. We will attempt to schedule meetings and speakers to address these concerns during the year. The 2006 priorities are:
1) Policing issues including – staffing, budgets, community policing and officer pay. City Council Chair Bill Foster will speak about policing issues at the March meeting. This is an opportunity to share your concerns. We hope to expand the Court Watch program this year to help the police and state attorney put away the repeat criminals.
2) Environmental issues including – environmental codes and enforcement, runoff, silting, dredging and permeable surfaces. A City of lakes, waterfront, wetlands and days of 11” of rain, has many issues. Last month a group that is organizing harbor cleanups came to ask for our help. The largest project we have ever attempted, Pinellas Living Green Expo, is going to connect thousands of people with concrete actions they can take to save power, fuel, water, money and the environment. Check out the web site: www.Pinellaslivinggreenexpo.org.
3) Monitoring the LDR’s or zoning. The new city-wide rezoning ordinance passed the Planning Commission in February after six years of discussions! Bob Jeffrey, the City staffer in charge of this huge effort, spoke to CONA in February to give us a status report. The Downtown Neighborhood Association has played a significant role in the new zoning for downtown. This rezoning process will take most of the year to work through the many approvals needed.
4) – Tied – Under grounding Utilities. As long as Florida has hurricanes and communities want more attractive streets, we will discuss under grounding utilities. The PSC (Public Service Commission) is currently considering how to address this issue. This is an expensive and long term project. A number of beach communities are doing this at this time. St. Petersburg has placed utilities underground downtown and along some corridors like 34th St. because it is more attractive.
4) Tied – Traffic Calming. No issue causes more division in a neighborhood. The City is getting better every year at building devices that slow the traffic without ripping off your muffler. The problem is that most of us want to drive over the speed limit until we get two blocks from our home! We will renew conversations with the traffic calming staff about future plans and how to balance citizens conflicting desires. As the City’s bike lanes and sidewalk system expands, this becomes an even more important safety issue.
These issues will keep us plenty busy during 2006. Volunteers are needed to work on any of these issues and projects. Thank you for your continuing efforts to make St. Petersburg a better city of neighborhoods!
Council of Neighborhood Associations