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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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St. Pete eyeing property overlooking Boca Ciega Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The city may be getting a new waterfront park overlooking Boca Ciega Bay.

City Council members Thursday authorized city staff to enter into negotiations to buy part or all of a 4.6-acre site in the Broadwater neighborhood known as the Rahall Estate. The land was valued at $3.2 million, but there is an option to split the parcel and buy a 1.75-acre plot, valued at $1.8 million.

The money would come from the Weeki Wachee Operating Fund, money the city accrued from selling land in Hernando County, dedicated to park and beautification projects.

The site is considered one of the few undeveloped sites of coastal uplands in built-out Pinellas County and includes oak and pines trees. Its purchase has been pushed by City Councilman Steve Kornell, a sitting member of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, who said the land provides crucial habitat for ospreys, eagles and other birds and helps preserve the water quality of Boca Ciega Bay.

The 1.75-acre plot includes 204 feet of frontage on the bay. Buying the whole parcel would also give the city ownership of a six-bed, nine-bath single family home.

Although City Council members approved moving ahead there was concern that the property on 42nd Avenue South would be too remote to connect to the Pinellas Trail — something it aims to do for every park.

There was also an expectation that the Rahall family would not expect full market price because the city is the potential buyer.

“At this point in time, I’d like to see what the price is and see if there is any charitable thought and what kind of value comes in,” said Councilman Jim Kennedy. “If there isn’t much charitable thought, that may affect how we spend the money and what we get for the money.”

Several residents expressed their support for the purchase, including Crescent Lake resident Lucy Trimarco.

“The alternative for this property would be development,” she said. “That’s something that has a negative impact on the estuary.”

Frank McKinney, who lives close to the property, said she hopes the city will buy the property and preserve it.

“We don’t need an elaborate park with a lot of landscaping,” she said. “We need a clear space where people and visitors and guests and tourists and citizens can go to look at nature and look at the beautiful waterfront and see a little bit of what Florida used to look like.”

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