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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Lealman--After Debate with Parks Dept..Department seeks another site for new station

    ST PETERSBURG TIMES

    Lealman seeks new fire station site
    Fire commissioners are looking into parcels on 54th Avenue N between 43rd Street and the railroad tracks.
    By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 4, 2003

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    LEALMAN - Fire commissioners have decided to look elsewhere for property to build a fire station, but they're not giving up land in Lealman Park until they have sealed a new deal.

    Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to explore the possibility of buying two pieces of land on the north side of 54th Avenue N, between the railroad tracks and 43rd Street. The new station would replace Fire Station 18, 4017 56th Ave. N.

    The larger piece of land is 12 lots of commercial property comprising about 1.67 acres. Commissioners also are interested in buying another lot that would complete the department's ownership of that block. The sellers of the larger piece, David and Walter Larson, are asking $250,000. The price of the smaller lot is unknown.

    The commission appointed a negotiating team to deal with cost and other issues - commission member Linda Campbell, a real estate agent; fire Chief Rick Graham; Deputy Chief David Brown; and the board's attorney.

    The decision to look some place other than Lealman Park, 54th Avenue and 37th Street N, came after much struggle.

    Commission members say they originally were promised up to half the park for the new station but had been limited to about 0.7 acres after community members lobbyed the county to retain as much green space as possible. That property is Lealman's only park. That space proved too small an amount after commissioners had their architect draft four plans. Some commissioners wanted to ask the county for 150 feet more of parkland.

    But on Friday the county turned down the fire commission's request and suggested the group look elsewhere. On Monday, the commission decided to do that. Mike Brophy, the commission head, called it the department's "new new station."

    "The park property is just not going to work," Brophy said. "Everything included together was going to be more of a nightmare than it was worth."

    If a new location pans out, then the Fire Commission would have to return the park property to Pinellas County. In turn, the county would return the property where Station 18 is currently located.

    The county had taken the Station 18 land with the goal of renovating the building so the Lealman Family Center and other agencies could move in as a type of community center.

    In a letter informing the fire commission of the county's decision, Assistant County Administrator Gay Lancaster said the community center could be put in the park. That way, the public restrooms, lighting and security the fire department had promised could still be provided to the park.

    Mike Quinlivan, executive director of the Family Center, said he had not been officially told his agency would move into a new building in the park if the fire station is built elsewhere. But he plans to meet Thursday with county officials to talk about the possibility and those officials, he said, seem to think that's what will happen.

    If it does, that would be great, he said.

    "It's a better fit for us" than renovating the old station, he said. The Family Center has afterschool and summer programs, which use the park, and sponsor other events that are held there.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default Compromise???

    Backers of new fire station to make an offer on land
    If the offer is accepted, the Lealman Fire District will go ahead with surveys and other tests.
    By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 18, 2003

    LEALMAN - Fire commissioners on Monday agreed to make an offer for land on which to build a new fire station.

    They will bid $232,000 for 12 lots of commercial property comprising about 1.67 acres on 54th Avenue N between the railroad tracks and 43rd Street. The asking price is $250,000.

    If the owners accept the offer, the Lealman Fire District would have up to 90 days to perform surveys, appraisals and other tests to make sure the land could be used for the station.

    If the deal goes through, commissioners would return land in Lealman Park, 54th Avenue and 37th Street N to the county.

    If the park land is returned, county officials have said it will be used to house a community center.

    Commissioners decided earlier this month to look somewhere other than the park for a site to build the station, which would replace Fire Station 18 at 4017 56th Ave. N. The county refused to give them a larger piece of the park after commissioners said the available parcel was too small to build the station they want.

    Commissioners also are interested in a smaller piece of property next to the 1.67 acres. It is unclear what that might cost or whether commissioners could buy it.

    Fire commissioners also got some unwelcome news at Monday's meeting. The 2003-04 budget is likely to be about $158,000 more than previously estimated.

    The increased amount, brought about by higher-than-estimated pension costs, will not increase the tax rate in the coming year, but it will likely mean that the tax rate will not drop, Lealman fire Chief Rick Graham said.

    The current overall budget of $4.9-million would go up to about $5.3-million in the coming year, under the new estimates.

    The bulk of that - about $4.2-million - would come directly from Lealman taxpayers; $948,430 from the county for emergency services; and $170,110 from Kenneth City, which contracts with the district for fire service.

    Most of the expenses lie in salaries and personnel costs, about $4.3-million in the upcoming fiscal year.

    Increased pension costs are a big reason for the jump in personnel expenses. The district's contribution to the state pension plan will rise to 24.15 percent for 2003-04 from about 16 percent this year.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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