A Salute to our Board of Trustees
It has been eight years since the inception of the Downtown Waterfront Parks Foundation (WPF). The organization has worked diligently over this period to "Preserve, Protect, and Promote" St. Petersburg’s amazing waterfront parks. Our success as an organization has been made possible through the generosity of our supporters and the unwavering commitment to the Foundation’s Mission by our Board of Trustees. I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the WPF Board members for the time, talent and treasure they have each afforded to the community through their service to the Foundation.
The Waterfront Parks Foundation began in 2012 with two boards: the Board of Trustees and an Advisory Board. The Board of Trustees was the governing Board that guided policy for the organization and was comprised of men and women passionate about the preservation and protection of the privately-funded gift of the waterfront parks, by our City founders, for the benefit of all of St. Petersburg. The Trustee Board was made up of myself, as President; Charles Osterholt, Secretary; Tami Simms, Treasurer; and Board members Kent Lydecker, Ph.D., Robert Lovejoy, Joan Jaicks, Peter Betzer, Ph.D., Doug Fischer, Ed Montanari, Will Michaels, Ph.D., Don Howe and Marty Wallace. Joel Giles, Esq. provided pro bono legal services for the WPF formation. Later Board members were Mike Cheezem, John Bowman, Helen Levine, Ph.D., David Feaster, Velva Lee Heraty, Karen Brown Dunlap, Ph.D. and Jesse Perez. The first Advisory Board was made up of like-minded community stakeholders and leaders that included the Foundation officers, and members Robert Carter, Tim Clemmons, Philip Graham IV, Mack Hicks, PhD., Sherry McBee, Ed Montanari, Peter Belmont, Esq. and Matt Shapiro. In 2016 we joined the two boards into one Board of Trustees. The current Board is comprised of officers Phil Graham, Charles Osterholt, Tami Simms and Logan DeVicente, Vice President, who make up the Executive Committee; and members Peter Betzer, Ph.D.; Robert Carter; Colleen Crutchfield; Bill Dahl; JP Fatseas; Doug Fisher; David Fischer; Harvey Ford, Esq.; Philip Graham IV; Patti Helton, Ph.D.; Mack Hicks, Ph.D.; Don Howe; Joan Jaicks; W. Richard Johnston; Will Michaels, Ph.D.; Sally Poynter; Ross Preville; and Robert Ulrich, Esq. Mike Jefferis, Parks & Recreation Administrator and Councilman Ed Montanari are Ex-Officio members and Therese Johnson is our Executive Administrator.
These dedicated volunteers represent the BEST of St. Petersburg and provide leadership in other areas of our community as well. We are most fortunate to have these individuals guiding the policy and performance of our organization. I am grateful for their contributions toward the preservation, protection and promotion of our amazing Downtown Waterfront Parks! Thank you, Board Members, Past and Present!
Phil Graham, Jr.
Waterfront Parks Foundation
Meet Our Board Members—Peter R. Betzer, PhD
Board Member Peter Betzer has served on the Waterfront Parks Foundation since its inception, and he brings a valuable wealth of knowledge and experience to the board. Peter and his wife, Susan Beers Betzer, MD, moved to St. Petersburg in 1971, soon after he earned his PhD in chemical oceanography from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. He joined the faculty of the University of South Florida’s Department of Marine Science, where he served until retiring in 2008. During his tenure there, Dr. Betzer served as Founding Dean and Professor of USF’S College of Marine Science. “It was exciting to play a key part in converting an industrial backwater into the largest marine research complex (www.spoceanteam.org) in the southeastern United States,” he remarks. “I am especially proud of the donations ($10 million) I solicited that endowed 18 student fellowships during the 25 years I led (Department Chair/Dean) the College of Marine Science.”
The author of over 60 scientific publications in journals and books, Dr. Betzer was a co-recipient of a Distinguished Authorship Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1985. From 1986-89 and again from 1995-99, he was appointed to the Ocean Sciences Advisory Panel for The National Science Foundation.
After retiring from USF, Peter was appointed CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, a group that has been pivotal to the emergence of St. Petersburg, Florida as an internationally prominent center for marine research. After retiring from the Partnership in 2017, he was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Sea Grant Advisory Board which oversees Sea Grant Programs in 33 university systems.
In addition to Peter’s illustrious career in oceanography, he also immersed himself—quite literally—in the waters at North Shore Aquatics Center, where he joined the St. Petersburg Master’s team in 1973 and over the next 47 years, swam over 25,000 miles with the group! While competing in the 2002 World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, his time for the 100-meter breaststroke was the fastest recorded for all U.S. male swimmers in the 60–64-year-old age group. Of this honor, Peter remarks, “I was delighted to become an All American swimmer, something I could have never imagined during my college career.”
He has also made time for extensive public service, donating his energies to the Pier Aquarium, Bayfront Medical Center, Canterbury School of Florida, Ocean Optics, serving as Coach of St. Petersburg High School Swim Team, the Lawrence University Board of Trustees, as a member of the International Relations Committee for the City of St. Petersburg, the Florida Orchestra, the Palladium Chamber Players, and as a member of the Sea Grant Advisory Board.
Peter and Susan raised two daughters in St. Petersburg, Sarah and Katherine, both of whom now live out-of-state. The Betzers enjoy living across the street from Crescent Lake Park in St. Pete.
Of his service to the WPF, Peter says, “It is immensely satisfying to be part of the Downtown Waterfront Parks Foundation, a group that is working not only to preserve but to enhance some of St. Petersburg’s most beautiful assets. I hope that my active collaboration with the members of the Downtown Waterfront Parks Foundation, with local business leaders and with the city, will help maintain and improve our waterfront parks so they remain a destination for residents and visitors alike.”
Waterfront Parks In The News
The recent flower bed plantings that took place earlier this month at North Straub and Flora Wiley Parks that were made possible by a generous donation from the Majeed Foundation got us some good coverage by the Tampa Bay Times.
Message From Our President
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and we all look forward to a happy and prosperous New Year.
The Foundation has celebrated a successful year in the preservation, protection and promotion of our amazing waterfront parks. Our annual Champagne Shuffle event was a great success; we raised matching grant funds for the crafting of land use and zoning changes to clarify conflicting regulations; our website has been completely restructured and we are now visible on all social media platforms; and we have made several community presentations on the future of our waterfront park system.
The new year promises to include the completion of many new and ongoing projects of the Foundation. Through the generosity of donors, special projects will be initiated: design and installation of a prototypical swing, floral plantings at high focal areas of the park system, relocation/removal of unnecessary utilities, review and refurbishment of benches and trash receptacles, review of signage within the parks, enhancement of accent and pedestrian lighting, and development of a community speakers team.
All of these projects cannot be accomplished without the help of the community—both financially and physically. To accomplish the physical needs of these tasks, the Board has initiated an invitation to our community members who are passionate about our waterfront parks to join one or more of our service committees. A brief description of these committees is published within the current Park Views, with a more thorough descriptions on the Volunteer page of the website. The Waterfront Parks Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and as such, cannot have “members” other than Board members. While our Board members work hard to accomplish the Foundation’s Mission, we have many more projects than we can accomplish alone. I ask you to review the list of the Foundation Committees and select one or more that you would like to help with. The Foundation is grateful and considerate of each volunteer’s time and will limit participation only to what is necessary to achieve the committee’s objectives.
2020 promises to be an exciting and fruitful year for the Waterfront Parks Foundation and we look forward to the participation of our community to help us Protect, Preserve and Promote our treasured Waterfront Parks.
Thank you and Happy Holidays,
Phil Graham, Jr.
Waterfront Parks Foundation
Meet Our Board Members - New WPF Vice President Logan DeVicente
One of the newer members of the WPF wasted no time in committing his time and talent in a big way! Logan DeVicente, who joined the WPF Board in 2018, now serves on the WPF Executive Committee as Vice President. He joins Founder and President Phil Graham, Jr., Secretary Charles Osterholt and Treasurer Tami Simms.
Logan’s history in St. Petersburg—and his commitment to our waterfront parks--runs deep. “I am a fifth-generation native who has always been interested in family history. The more I learned, the more I appreciated the families who were dedicated in making St. Petersburg such a unique and charming city.” Logan’s great-great-grandfather, William Lincoln Straub, led the effort to preserve and protect our public waterfront system. (See the website for the Winter 2018 edition of this newsletter to read WPF member Will Michael’s story on William L. Straub.)
Although Logan’s mother’s family were early settlers, his distinct last name comes straight from Spain. “When my mom was young, she went to Spain and taught English to native Spanish speakers. My father was one of her students, and their love story began there.” When she returned home, Logan’s father accompanied her, and they started their life together in St. Petersburg.
Logan’s wife, Natalie, grew up in Gulfport and they both graduated from St. Petersburg High School. They are the proud parents of Harper, 7, Lily, 5 and Landon, 18 months. A Certified Financial Planner who specializes in financial planning for families, Logan has worked in the industry for 15 years. He attended University of Florida where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In addition to his service to WPF, Logan serves on the Boards of Great Explorations Children’s Museum, Pioneer Park and the First Flight Foundation. Prior to joining WPF, he spent seven years on the Board of Preserve the ’Burg.
On joining WPF, Logan comments, “I believe that our waterfront park system is the gem of the city. It is something that so many people cherish and it’s a big part of what attracts them to our lovely city. I feel that these parks need to be protected and cared for so that they can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. I want to help WPF be a voice for the protection and beautification of our waterfront parks.”
Join us in welcoming Logan to our team.
Marketing Committee Sets the Pace
As you can see, our recently revamped website at www.waterfrontparksfoundation.org continues to evolve in the best way, with new videos and additional images featuring the unique aspects of each of the waterfront parks. Be sure to check back regularly for new views of the parks.
Our revamped Facebook page debuted in September with an initial promotion for our Preserve the ’Burg’s October “Movies in the Park” sponsorship. This sponsorship resulted in some unexpected exposure thanks to a special substitution on October 10th, when the event featured the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros in the post-season playoff Game 5. The event’s enthusiastic turnout that evening provided terrific publicity for our WPF sponsorship efforts.
Our Marketing Committee members are now busy supporting the Champagne Shuffle Committee to enhance the marketing, promotional and communications efforts for WPF's signature event, the 3rd Annual Champagne Shuffle, which is scheduled for Sunday, April 5, 2020. It promises to be another fun-filled event with friends and families from all over St. Pete!
WPF Committee Members Wanted
Volunteers are sought for each of the committees described herein. Please study these brief overviews and find a committee or two where you feel you can make a difference, then follow the link to the Committees page on our website which provides a more thorough description of each committee. Then—and this is essential—SIGN UP to join the committee of your choice! The more hands, the lighter the load, so invite your friends to sign up too. Together, we can work with the City to make our waterfront parklands the best they can be!
1-A LAND USE & ZONING / MODIFICATIONS COMMITTEE—This committee needs members with some knowledge of municipal codes and zoning, as members will coordinate and review land use revisions to the Downtown Waterfront Parks prepared by our attorneys, Carlton Fields.
1-B LAND USE & ZONING / ELECTRICAL, WATER AND OTHER UTILITY STRUCTURES—If you are familiar with power distribution, we need you! This committee needs at least four volunteers who will meet with the head of the City Parks and Water Departments and Duke Energy representatives to review the viability, location and size of their related facilities, many of which are now unnecessary or abandoned and clutter the park views with unnecessary structures, pipes, etc. Other utilities that need review include phone, gas, fiber optics and cable.
2-A SPECIAL PROJECTS / BENCHES & RECEPTACLES—Our park benches are in constant need of refurbishing! The WPF is working on a long-term solution to this ongoing and expensive problem. Committee members will work with the City Parks Department to research sustainable materials and methods for refurbishment of the 350+ benches in need of improvement or provide information for a design to use as a new standard park bench. Another task includes reviewing/adding to placement of benches and waste receptacles. Two to three members are welcome.
2-B SPECIAL PROJECTS / SIGNAGE—This committee would work with the City Parks Department in the design and selection of regulatory, informational and identification signage standards for the parks. The committee would create a list of the signs required; coordinate conceptual design and location with the contractor doing the Pier signage; select appropriate family of signage from the concepts; request pricing; and work with the City Staff for approvals and implementation. Three to four members needed.
2-C SPECIAL PROJECTS / FLORAL PLANTINGS—Gardeners welcome! A generous donor has offered to fund floral enhancements for selected areas of the park system. Committee members would assist in the selection of plant materials for these high-visibility areas which would be planted three times a year. Two to four volunteers are welcome.
2-D SPECIAL PROJECTS / SWING—We have developed a prototype swing to be erected in some areas of the waterfront parks. This committee work is already in progress, but one or two additional volunteers would be welcome to help provide input and coordination with the City.
2-E SPECIAL PROJECTS / LIGHTING—This committee will assist in the expansion of the City’s recent replacement of the Tivoli lights in the trees in Straub Park with up lights within the tree canopies. Our goal (with the financial support of a procured donor) is to expand the lighting to other areas of the waterfront park system in need of additional illumination, including lighting of the primary park signage. This committee would also look at the current light type, coverage and location of light poles within the parks. This committee needs four to five members.
2-F SPECIAL PROJECTS / MAINTENANCE—These members would act as “watch dogs” and would work with the City Parks Department, bringing attention to areas or elements of disrepair, degradation or other maintenance needs within our waterfront parks. Members might also assist with light physical maintenance of the parks to keep them looking their best.
3-A SPECIAL EVENTS / CHAMPAGNE SHUFFLE—This committee already is at work coordinating our annual fundraising event, which takes place at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club. Additional volunteers are welcome to assist with this event.
3-B SPECIAL EVENTS/CIVIC PARTICIPATION—Committee members would act as volunteers at various community festivals and events such as the Green Thumb Festival, Wine & Food Festival, Earth Day, etc. Activities might include staffing tables, collecting names/emails of interested visitors, passing out literature, etc. Two to five members are welcome.
4-A MARKETING & COMMUNITY OUTREACH / ADVOCACY—Members of this committee will assist in the preservation, maintenance and appropriate enhancements of the waterfront park system. This would be accomplished by supporting the Foundation’s advocacy of the parks, promoting our Mission throughout the community, and building a lasting working relationship with the City Administration, City Staff and City Council members. Two to four members are welcome.
4-B MARKETING & COMMUNITY OUTREACH / SPEAKERS TEAM—Public speakers, here’s your opportunity: we need committee members willing to make presentations to residential, business, community and other interested groups on the Mission of the Waterfront Parks Foundation to develop an understanding of our purpose, encourage volunteers, provide opportunities for fundraising and build support for the preservation of our waterfront park system throughout the community (presentation training and materials will be provided). Two to four members are welcome.
Please consider what committee(s) which you would like to participate and complete the form below. We also encourage you to share this information with your family, friends and associates and invite them to participate with you.
See more detailed descriptions and a volunteer registration form at www.waterfrontparksfoundation.org/volunteer
Save The Date
Get your group together and mark your calendars for our WPF annual fundraiser, Champagne Shuffle, which takes place on Sunday, April 5, 3:00–6:00 pm at the historic St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club. The event gets bigger and better every year! In addition to the complimentary glass of bubbly, appetizers and our round robin shuffleboard competition, this year’s event will include a raffle table with plenty of great prizes. It’s a fun afternoon for all ages and a great way to support our downtown waterfront parks.
Tickets are $20 if you reserve early; $25 day of event and will be available online after the first of the year. Check our Event Page on Facebook for more details.