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Seminole Council moves projects forward
Action taken on Community Center and Waterfront Park
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Photo courtesy of JAMES OLLIVER
The Seminole City Council moves its Oct. 22 meeting to St. Petersburg College, 9200 113th St. N., in the college’s newly constructed tiered classroom. The classroom’s design is based on the council’s chambers at City Hall. Pictured are the council members with SPC staff and administration, and students in the college’s four-year public policy and administration program.
SEMINOLE – The City Council moved forward with one of Seminole’s seven-year goals, the planned Community Center renovation project, at its Oct. 22 meeting.

The council voted unanimously to select Biltmore Construction as the construction manager (at risk) to oversee renovation of the 15,000-square-foot former City Hall building at Seminole City Park.

After receiving three bids for the job, the city used a selection committee to make the final decision. The committee consisted of Jeremy Hockenbury, public works director; Michael Mason, project architect; and Susan Reiter, past vice president of facilities planning and institutional services at St. Petersburg College.

The council also approved the use of up to $50,000 in Penny for Pinellas funds for pre-demolition services at the site. This investigative demolition will give Biltmore an opportunity to better understand the existing framework of the building. The knowledge gained from this work will help the city establish an accurate guaranteed maximum price for the renovation of the building, City Manager Frank Edmunds said.

The building has long been vacant, primarily used as storage space for the city. Once completed, the $2.25 million project, which will be funded mostly by Penny for Pinellas money, will include 3,600 square feet for a Seminole Historical Society Museum, a 6,600-square-foot community room, which will be available for rental and be able to seat 250, with the balance of the building’s space going to community policing and storage.

The council also took a vote regarding another of the city’s seven-year-plans: Waterfront Park, located at 10400 Park Blvd., adjacent to Home Depot. The council unanimously decided to move forward with a list of recommended elements made by a recreational advisory committee for the park.

Suggested possibilities for Waterfront Park include:

• A kayak and canoe launch
• A marine/water theme
• An entrance designed by a local artist
• A large gazebo for multiple uses
• Seating throughout the park, including bench swings
• Florida-Friendly landscaping with educational signs
• A boardwalk
• A limitless playground
• A trail around the edge of the park

Edmunds said the next step is for design professionals to create concepts for what the park may look like. He stressed that this is just the beginning of the design process.”

Councilman Bob Matthews expressed concern about moving forward with designing the park without public input.

“[The] part that hasn’t been part of this element is the public hearings and input from community civic groups,” he said. “I would like to leave an opening there for that bright idea that comes when we think we’ve got all the answers. … The public hearings are important and many times that’s the information that helps us in a special way.”

Edmunds assured him that members of the public would be able to voice their opinions on the park’s design after the initial concepts are created.

“We usually have the most success when we have a preliminary design,” he said, “and once that’s done we will have public hearings.”

Councilman John Counts said he’d like the park to include a multi-use athletic facility in addition to the kayak launch and marine theme.

“As usual, I have the minority voice on this,” he said. “As I see it, we have two ways to go. We can either go the path we’re going. The path we’re going is a scaled-down version of what we already have across the street at Seminole Park. [It’s a] beautiful park. Or we can go a different path.”

At the urging of the recreation advisory committee, Counts recently visited the site of Waterfront Park and noted that there’s enough room for one multi-use sports facility, he said. The nearest athletic facility is at the Seminole Youth Athletic Association complex on 90th Avenue, he added, and it’s in constant use year-round.

If there’s no room for an athletic field at Waterfront Park, he hopes the council will consider “other sites within the city to implement a sports-type facility.”
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