Corner of Whitted Airport Set for Observation Tower

After some planning hiccups, airport operators and the Albert Whitted Airport Preservation Society have come to an understanding about eventual placement of a small observation tower. The tower now awaits selection of a contractor for the airport's new terminal.

"We did have a little problem, but we're going to be able to work it out," said Terri Griner, AWAPS' president.

The group went through two grant cycles to get funding for a comfortable, convenient viewing area so the public could watch airport activities without peering through hedges and fencing, Griner said. They planned to build a tower along First Street S but the airport plans to build an access road through the same site. Once a contractor is chosen, Griner will work with the builder to include space for the tower in the northwest corner of the airport.

"A lot of people know we have an airport, but that's all, they can't see it," said Rich Lesniak, the airport manager. "This will allow the general public to have more access, so it definitely benefits the airport."

AWAPS will pay half the $35,000 project cost, with the city's Neighborhood Partnership grant money covering the rest.

An existing observation area, off Eighth Avenue SE, is cramped, uncovered and relatively unknown, said Griner. The new tower will provide benches and a canopy so visitors can relax in the shade to watch airplanes take off and land. Griner said this is an outgrowth of the 2003 city referendum on keeping the airport.

"That's what the community wanted," Griner said. "That's what they voted on, and they want more access to the airport."

The tower will be the first of several opportunities for the public to see the airport. A taller tower on the north end of the field is in the works. Also, new parkland on the north may also allow for viewing, Lesniak said. The new terminal, which will begin construction in April or May and finished within a year, will also have an observation deck. Lesniak said the terminal will include a full-service restaurant overlooking the airport.

Scheduled to be finished by the end of April, the completion date may be pushed back a month or two. In addition to the city's $17,800, AWAPS is matching the grant with $4,200 in design services donated by the Lange Corp., and $13,600 in materials and labor contributed by S.J. Hall Construction Co.

Meetings

NORTH KENWOOD NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Edward White Hospital Auditorium, Room 1G, 2299 Ninth Ave. N. St. Petersburg police Officer Tony Rolan will discuss neighborhood traffic problems, particularly speeders and large trucks on 13th Avenue N.

DISSTON HEIGHTS CIVIC ASSOCIATION: Business meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at St Petersburg Community Church, 4501 30th Ave. N. Speaker Anna Huddleston-Aycock, an investigator with Pinellas County Justice & Consumer Services, will discuss department process and the latest scams.

MEL-TAN HEIGHTS NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Will hold its next meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Brister Temple Church of God, 2901 18th Ave. S.

HIGHLAND OAKS NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Will celebrate Black History Month at its next meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Sanderlin Family Services Center, 2335 22nd Ave. S.

EDGEMOOR NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Will hold a meeting to set its agenda for 2006 at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Faith Covenant Church, 150 62nd Ave. NE.

HISTORICAL OLD NORTHEAST NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Will have its annual crimewatch report meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 126 11th Ave. NE.

PALMETTO PARK NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Regeneration Building, 2301 Third Ave. S. The meeting topic is the association's community garden project.

LAKEWOOD ESTATES NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: Meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at the St. Petersburg Country Club, 2000 Country Club Way S. Police Chief Chuck Harmon will be the speaker.

JUNGLE TERRACE CIVIC ASSOCIATION: The second part to the neighborhood cleanup is Feb. 27 starting at 7 a.m. City crews will pick up large household items in the area from 22nd Avenue N to Tyrone Boulevard, and from 66th Street N west to Boca Ciega Bay. No hazardous materials will be accepted. For information call 343-2041.

Readers wishing to submit information for the Neighborhood Notebook can contact Times staff writer Paul Swider either by e-mail at pswider@sptimes.com or by phone at 892-2271. Neighborhood association presidents who would like to publish their organization's information directly to the Web on their own itsyourtimes.com blog should also contact Paul Swider at pswider@sptimes.com.



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