St. Petersburg city officials have kicked off a campaign to explore the future of the burgeoning city — 30 years from now.
And at a two-hour long community outreach on Thursday night, residents from all over the city came out to the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art to kick off the unprecedented process.
Dubbed “St. Pete 2050,” it’s billed as “a city-wide conversation about where our city is going and what it can become over the next 30 years.” The project is in the raw data-collecting stage with multiple options for citizens to voice their opinions, in person or online.
The Thursday meeting began with an introduction to the 2050 outreach plan from the deputy mayor Kanika Tomalin.
Then the city’s director of planning Elizabeth Abernathy gave the crowd of roughly 300 citizens a brief background of the city’s legacy of planning that began in the 1920s.
With the help of city planners, groups of 8-to-10 residents discussed and plotted specific strengths and weaknesses of the city’s neighborhoods on large, blank maps of the city labelled with parks, recreation centers, libraries, business associations, public and private schools, and higher education establishments.
Groups had a set of stickers covering eight of the 15 themes from the 2020 plan and a sheet explaining them. The themes were meant to lead the initial conversation amongst groups of residents.
By the end of a Saturday workshop, the maps are littered with phrases written in multicolored Crayola markers.
For one group, there were comments like “opportunity” written over the Skyway Marina District, “more character and connection” written along Tyrone Boulevard and “need for community gardens” in the Meadowlawn neighborhood.
The survey will also allow residents to suggest ideas for the future of places like Tropicana Field, which has its long-term future up in the air and 85 acres of land beneath it.
In 1920, John Nolen was the premier town planner of the time period and the Nolen Plans reinforced the importance of city park systems, civic buildings and wide boulevards, according to the Vision 2020 plan. The Nolen plans are responsible for St. Pete’s miles of waterfront parks along Beach Drive.
Twenty years later, the Bartholomew Plan focused on many city-wide issues including education and building schools for a rapidly expanding population. The 1940s plan is most noted for the continued development of the street grid pattern that resulted in the city’s automobile-oriented commercial corridors.
In 1974, St. Pete defined the Conceptual Plan, which reflected the desire to alter many of the negative construction practices of the 1950s era such as the small, poorly constructed, mass-produced housing stock built shortly after World War II. This planning effort reinforced the quality, suburban style neighborhoods of the south, west and north edges of St. Petersburg.
The last time St. Pete decided to develop a plan was in 2002, for the Vision 2020 plan. The final result was 15 themes that the community would focus on for the next 18 years, ranging from social equity, to arts and culture, to transportation.
November 20 is the last opportunity to get in on one of these workshops. It’ll be held at the J.W. Cate Recreation Center from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. The survey can also be taken online at stpete2050.com.
St. Pete 2050 Meeting. Wed. Nov. 20, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. J.W. Cate Recreation Center. 5801 22nd Ave. N., St. Petersburg.