Bike Trail on Hold; Mayor in Talks on Bayou

Council adjourned their meeting Tuesday October 6 after potentially easing the mind of many Gulfport residents.

Much of the concern stems from the proposed bike trail that would, upon approval and completion, connect to the Pinellas Trail.

But many residents are opposed to the plan, citing concerns such as a rise in crime, lowered property values and the seizure of private property.

“People I’ve talked to said this will change their neighborhood,” resident Chuck Broich said.

City manager Jim O’Reilly and Mayor Sam Henderson assured the crowd that the city is not moving forward with any plan on a bike trail at the moment.

“We are not taking any further action,” O’Reilly said. “There is no definitive project … and the issue is being revisited with new ideas being presented to council. We are not moving forward with any construction or any design phases related to it.”

Mayor Henderson added that the city is “moving away from that plan.” The city will consider different plans for the trail as ideas are available.

Councilwoman Christine Brown brought good news to Gulfport city employees with her idea to provide an additional paid holiday for the fiscal year of 2015/2016.

Council unanimously decided to include President’s Day as a paid city holiday. Ten years ago, city council under a former administration eliminated President’s Day as a paid holiday. The holiday will cost the city roughly $25,000, according to the resolution’s memo.

Council also reinstated Elizabeth Brown-Worthington, Emerald Mancini, Taryn Spence and Abigail Zigmund to the Gulfport Teen Council.

“We do need more teens on the teen council,” Councilwoman Brown said. “So if you know anyone between 13 and 18 years wold, we encourage you to ask them to sign up.”

Mayor Henderson brought his own good news to Gulfport, presenting council with the draft agreement from St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman in regards to Clam Bayou.

“We are going to make our comments and we’re going to go back and follow the process,” said the mayor. “It’s like a contract negotiation. I think we’re going to come out of this better.”

Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman has also remained active in the hunt for justice for the bayou and says she has reached out to Steve Leavitt, St. Petersburg water resources department director, as well as St. Petersburg communication director Ben Kirby.

Romans noted that she asked them to attend a Gulfport council meeting to provide updates on improvements to the situation. Both reportedly declined, saying they prefer to keep the discussion between the mayors and staff at this time.

Roman said she was very “disappointed in the response,” but reassured council that state representatives Kathleen Peters and Darryl Rouson spoke about the situation at the latest delegation meeting.

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