Since childhood I have been able to call our downtown waterfront parks my playground. My father’s photography studio was across the street from South Straub Park and on afternoons, weekends and summers, the parks and the pier were where I played, fished and passed my time. I loved them then as I love them now! My great-great grandfather, Clarence W. Graham, was one of the Founders of our beloved Sunshine City. My roots in St. Petersburg run deep.
Our parks have been recognized as one of the foremost contiguous waterfront parks in North America! Not everyone is aware that our waterfront parks were a GIFT to the citizens of St. Petersburg from a select few of our city’s Founders, including William Straub, the crusading Editor of the St. Petersburg Times.
That is why, in 2012, I felt called to start the Waterfront Parks Foundation (WPF). With a group of like-minded men and women, we came together with a Mission “To support preservation and enhancement of the historic downtown waterfront parks for the enjoyment of residents and visitors of St. Petersburg.” We recognized the waterfront parks as the Jewels on Tampa Bay. We wanted to make sure that the parks continued to be available to all the citizens and visitors of our community; we wanted to protect the parks from developers’ shovels; and we wanted to promote the parks in the best possible ways.
It has been my privilege and pleasure to serve as President of the Waterfront Parks Foundation since its inception. I have worked with many excellent civic volunteers who share my passion for our parks. I thank them all for their contributions and support for the parks. Like me, they see their value, their beauty, and the recreational opportunities they provide for you and me. Together we have worked to enhance the parks and advocate for their protection and preservation. I especially would like to thank Charles Osterholt and Tami Simms, Secretary and Treasurer respectively, for their outstanding contributions to the WPF since its founding. I am also grateful for the generosity of our donors who have made park enhancements possible.
While remaining the Founder and a WPF Board member, I now welcome Logan DeVicente as the new President of the Waterfront Parks Foundation. Logan is a St. Petersburg native, the great-great grandson of William Straub; he is a respected businessman, active civic leader, and a devoted family man. He takes the reins this month and will continue to oversee the WFP ideals and endeavors. Logan will be an outstanding leader for our Foundation!
I hope you will continue to support our waterfront parks, and tell your family and friends about the WPF, the history of our parks, and encourage them to use and support our parks year-round. In summation, the St. Petersburg downtown waterfront parks are for you and me, for our loved ones, and for the many new residents and visitors to our beautiful city. Please join us as we continue to ‘PRESERVE, PROTECT AND PROMOTE’ the waterfront parks!
See you in the parks!
Philip H. Graham, Jr.
From Our New President
As I begin my first letter to you as President of the Waterfront Parks Foundation, I reflect upon what this amazing organization has already accomplished and what it represents for our beautiful city. I am honored and humbled to lead this exceptional endeavor.
Over 100 years ago, my great-great grandfather, William L. Straub, worked diligently to preserve our waterfront parklands so that they could be enjoyed by all. He and a group of like-minded citizens shared a long-term vision to prevent privatization of this unique property as they worked to protect and preserve it for all to enjoy. St. Petersburg’s waterfront park system now includes over four linear miles of waterfront along Tampa Bay, encompassing over 100 acres of parkland. I believe that he would be extremely proud to see that today, the Waterfront Parks Foundation continues to carry on his mission of protecting, preserving and promoting our wonderful waterfront parks.
William Straub pioneered this mission in the 20th Century, and today, we are most fortunate to have our own pioneer in Philip Graham, Jr., who founded this organization in 2012. His passion and stewardship to continue the protection and beautification of our parks system has been a major asset to our foundation and to our community. I cannot thank Phil enough for his nine years of leadership, and I am grateful for his continued dedication to aid the foundation and educate the public on our mission.
As many St. Pete residents and visitors have ventured outside to explore all our city has to offer (especially over the past 18 months), our waterfront parks have been busier than ever. It cannot be overstated how important our parks system is to St. Petersburg, and I am honored to work with this amazing group of individuals, whose focus is the preservation, enhancement and advocacy of our waterfront parklands.
Until next time, enjoy the parks, and please visit them with your family, friends and neighbors.
From the water’s edge,
Living Shoreline Restoration Project to begin at Lassing Park
Take a drive along Lassing Park and you will see that preparations are underway for the initial staging by Tampa Bay Watch and the City of St. Petersburg for Phase 1 of the Lassing Park Living Shoreline Restoration Project. The unusual objects pictured here and stacked at the north end of the park are oyster balls, which will be installed December 15th and 16th beginning at 9:00 a.m.
According to Bill Dahl, WPF Board Member and President of Old Southeast Neighborhood Association, additional project phases will occur in Spring and Summer of 2022, when protective shoreline grasses will be planted. All these events will include volunteer opportunities, so watch this website and the OSNE or Old Southeast Facebook pages for updates!