Spring is here, the weather is beautiful, and the city and parks are bustling. The Waterfront Parks Foundation has been busy, and I’d like to share with you some of the exciting projects we have been working on.
One of our most recent achievements took true collaboration. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the hard work and partnership between our organization, the City Parks Department, Advanced Engineering & Design, and the Majeed Foundation for the waterfront swing that was recently installed in Flora Wylie Park, at the intersection of Coffee Pot Blvd and Northshore Dr. NE. It was the brainchild of WPF founder Phil Graham, who made this all happen. If you have not been able to enjoy the swing yet, please be sure to stop by this new park amenity and relax for a bit at the water’s edge. We have installed a QR code at the swing to get feedback from the public, and we greatly appreciate the great response we have already received. We invite everyone to the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, which we will hold on April 20th, 2022 at 10:00 am. We would love for you, friends, neighbors, and city officials to join us for its official dedication.
The Waterfront Parks Foundation recently presented to the St Petersburg City Council with an update on our latest efforts to support the downtown waterfront parks, including the seasonal flower plantings, the swing installation, future sign and utility installation plans, and ongoing maintenance of the beautiful green open spaces that grace our shoreline for all to enjoy. We appreciate the relationship we have with the City staff as well as City Council, and have been working closely with them on additional ways to protect, preserve and promote our wonderful parks. Their continued support for the protection and enhancement of our waterfront parks is invaluable to our mission and future.
Until next time, enjoy the parks, and share them with all of those around you.
Waterfront Parks Foundation
Join Us for Our Park Swing Dedication
All are invited to join City of Saint Petersburg Parks & Recreation Department and the Waterfront Parks Foundation (WPF) for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new waterfront parks bench swing prototype on Wednesday, April 20th, 2022 at 10:00 am in Flora Wylie Park, located at the intersection Coffee Pot Blvd. and Northshore Dr. NE.
This prototype swing was funded through the generosity of the Majeed Family (MajeedFoundation.org). WPF has installed embedded QR Codes on the swing, which we invite you to use to provide your input on this new way to enjoy the waterfront. If public response is as positive as we anticipate, we plan to install additional bench swings in our downtown waterfront parks.
The ribbon cutting ceremony will feature City Council Chair and District 6 Councilmember Gina Driscoll, City Leisure Services Administrator Mike Jefferis, Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation, Bryan Eichler, The Majeed Family, WPF President Logan DeVicente, and WPF Founder Phil Graham, Jr.
Lassing Park Living Shoreline Restoration
Project Volunteer Opportunity
Amazing work continues at the southernmost park under WPF’s protection, Lassing Park, where Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with the City of St. Petersburg, works to stabilize one of the last remaining undeveloped shorelines in St. Petersburg with the Living Shoreline Project.
The project kicked off in December 2021 when volunteers installed 250 oyster reef balls. These reef balls work to help stabilize approximately 700 feet of shoreline which was suffering from serious erosion.
According to Tampa Bay Watch, “Creation of a living shoreline project, including oyster reef balls, oyster shell reefs, and coastal wetland plans will prevent further erosion of Lassing Park, restore lost habitat systems to the bay, and improve water quality through natural biological filtration.”
Volunteer Opportunity on Earth Day
Another volunteer opportunity will take place on Earth Day: Friday, April 22, 2022 beginning at 9:00 am. Bill Dahl, WPF Board Member and with Old Southeast Neighborhood Association board, reports that 68 volunteers were already signed up as of April 12th to install oyster reef balls, oyster bags, and begin sea grass planting. Bill says that there’s something for everyone to do. All are welcome to come out, get your feet wet and help restore this city treasure. WPF will have a table at the event. Be sure to stop by the WPF table and say hello!
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!