Message from our President
Our waterfront parks are being enjoyed more and more now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing up. It is wonderful to see people of all ages enjoying the many features our downtown waterfront parks provide to our community. We have also been “discovered” as a destination city with new residents arriving daily, making the preservation of waterfront open space even more important as our user numbers increase.
The Spring floral planting has been installed in the waterfront parks through the generosity of the Majeed Family (MajeedFoundation.org). The installation of seasonal flowers has been expanded and now adds vibrant floral color to 3rd Ave. N.E. and Beach Dr.; 4th Ave N.E. and Beach Drive; Coffee Pot Blvd. and North Shore Dr. N.E.; four large flower beds along Tampa Bay near the volleyball courts; and a soon-to-be-installed location at 5th Ave. and Bayshore Dr. N.E. The Majeed Foundation has made it possible, through their ongoing funding of these floral displays and their maintenance, to provide the City with a number of bright focal points to highlight our waterfront park system.
The Majeed Foundation will also provide funding for the installation of the first bench swing in our downtown waterfront parks. The bench swing was designed by the Waterfront Parks Foundation and engineered by Bill Reidy of Advanced Engineering & Design, Inc. This prototype swing will be installed along Tampa Bay in Flora Wylie Park near the intersection of Coffee Pot Blvd. and Northshore Dr. N.E. It will be installed this summer and we will be asking the public for their impressions and comments. If we receive positive input, we will be installing more bench swings within the parks.
The Waterfront Parks Foundation joined forces with the St. Petersburg Downtown Rotary Club this year for the refurbishment of the William Straub monument in South Straub Park. A dedication ceremony was held on May 7th. Stop by and visit the monument. Use your cell phone to receive information on Mr. Straub, who was the editor of the St. Petersburg Times, a founder of the St. Petersburg Rotary Club and the man who was instrumental in giving St. Petersburg the wonderful waterfront parks we enjoy today!
The Foundation’s Committees, in coordination with the City Parks Department, have been busy with various important aspects of the waterfront parks including utilities, benches, park zoning, site lighting, signage, and special events. One of the upcoming events will be “Hunt the Waterfront,” a fun-filled scavenger hunt to discover interesting facts about St. Pete and the waterfront parks. The Foundation also continues to provide advocacy for our waterfront parks and, most recently, formed a committee to mitigate negative impacts on Demens Landing Park found in the proposed Safe Harbor Development conceptual marina plan.
Phil Graham, Jr., President
Waterfront Parks Foundation
Setting the Record Straight
The proposed St Petersburg Marina privatization and redevelopment plan by Safe Harbor Development (SHD) is one of the most controversial issues affecting our waterfront today and has a potentially profound generational impact.
Faced with this challenge, President Phil Graham Jr. led a Waterfront Parks Foundation (WPF) committee in reviewing the Demens Landing parkland and green space portion of the proposal. "Waterfront parkland use is core to WPF's mission," according to Phil. "However, since our WPF charter does not cover the overall Marina or operations, we limited our review to only the Demens Landing parkland portion."
WPF was briefly swept up in the surrounding Marina controversy when Mayor Rick Kriseman misinterpreted the Foundation's position and subsequent news stories, and social media posts repeated the incorrect information.
"This turned out to be a blessing in disguise," states Phil, "because I had a great opportunity to set the record straight when Joe Hamilton of the St. Pete Catalyst offered an invitation for an interview. It presented a wonderful chance to share our waterfront parks mission with a broader audience, as well as detailing the WPF's position regarding the Marina proposal." Phil continued: "Our position is clear. At this time, we do not offer any approval or endorsement of the Demens Landing portion until three extremely specific conditions are met satisfactorily." The WPF will not offer an opinion on the overall Safe Harbor redevelopment proposal.
Phil adds: "We estimate that it would take months under the best of circumstances for the City and SHD to meet our conditions and they still may balk at those requirements. Only if all the conditions are satisfactorily met would WPF offer a conditional approval which will be limited to the Demens Land parkland use."
The WPF position and contingent conditions are further outlined in Phil's Catalyst interview.
Rotary Club Rededicates Monument Honoring William Straub on 100th Anniversary
The Rotary Club of St. Petersburg held a ceremony rededicating the William L. Straub monument on May 7, 2021, located on the northeast corner of South Straub Park. The monument serves the purpose of educating the public about the important role William Straub played in preserving our waterfront parks. Straub was the first president of the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg in 1920.
The Rotary Club graciously funded the needed restoration of this beautiful monument, as part of their centennial celebration this past year. The monument now includes an additional plaque with a new interactive feature for smart phones to provide more information about William Straub's impact on our city and Rotary.
Phil Graham, Jr., President of the Waterfront Parks Foundation who is also a Rotarian, worked closely with AGG Restoration to bring this project to fruition. "It's wonderful to have the DeVicente Family here with us for this rededication," said Graham. "Their kids are able to enjoy our waterfront parks thanks to the vision William Straub had many years ago."
"William Straub was my great-great grandfather. I've known about him since I was very young," said Logan DeVicente, Vice President of the Waterfront Parks Foundation. The monument will remind St. Pete residents and visitors about my great-great grandfather for many years to come."
Kathy DeVicente, Logan's mother and the great granddaughter of William Straub, was also in attendance for the rededication of the monument. “The new technology for this memorial is very impressive," she said. "My great grandfather was such an integral part of St. Petersburg and had such a vision."
We hope you are able to enjoy the improvements to the monument, which is on the corner of 2nd Avenue North and North Shore Drive. The Waterfront Parks Foundation is grateful for the generosity of the Rotary Club for this improvement to our parks.
Read more about William Straub: https://sprotary.org/straub/
Fun Events Return to the Waterfront Parks
Fun Fitness Boot Camp
Saturday, May 15—Healthy St. Pete | Fun Fitness Boot Camp by St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation takes place on the third Saturday of each month, 9:00–10:00 am on the Family Lawn at the St. Pete Pier. Free! Click here to learn more.
French Fry Festival
Saturday, May 15—St. Petersburg French Fry Festival returns to Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg on Saturday, May 15 from 3:00 to 10:00 pm. The event will feature 20 food trucks, in addition to a craft beer and wine booth for adults to enjoy. Details can be found on ILoveTheBurg.com.
Movies in the Park
Thursday, May 20—Join us for Preserve the Burg’s Movies in the Park! Once again this year, the Waterfront Parks Foundation is a Platinum Sponsor for Preserve the Burg’s semi-annual Movies in the Parks, which is held in North Straub Park. Due to COVID-19, the event is back with limited seating so tickets are required this year. The May 20th featured movie is Two Weeks Notice starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. Gates open at 6:15 pm with food and drinks available (you may also bring your own picnic) and live music starts at 7:00. The film begins on the big screen at sunset. Get your tickets and more info from Preserve the ‘Burg, and we’ll see you there!
Coming Soon—Watch for the release of WPF’s HUNT THE WATERFRONT Scavenger Hunt. This safe and fun activity will use your smartphone to guide you through our beautiful downtown waterfront parks in a challenging way! The WPF is providing this free event as an engaging and safe way to get to better know and appreciate our beautiful jewels on Tampa Bay. We’ll send a link to our subscribers and post on our Events tab as soon as it’s ready. So, if you aren’t already on our mailing list, be sure to sign up on our Events page.
We look forward to seeing you in the Parks!