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County commission approves BP spending list that includes ‘love letter to Pinellas’

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas County commissioners unanimously approved a list of projects that will be funded by about $7.07 million of BP settlement monies.

Among the 30 projects: $1 million each for sewer lining/sewer/stormwater capacity/upgrades and affordable housing. Other projects include $150,000 for a metro wellness center, $294,000 for land preparation for a Palm Harbor recreation center, and $250,000 for a pedestrian-bicycle bridge at Phillippe Park in Safety Harbor.

Commissioners also approved $500,000 for “arts support.” The exact form that might take is unclear, but it’s likely to be some kind of a “traveling sculpture or installation,” which was one of two ideas proposed by Barbara St. Clair, executive director of Creative Pinellas.

County officials had asked Creative Pinellas to submit ideas for the money.

The idea behind the traveling sculpture, St. Clair said, was to create an iconic art piece that would be moved from place to place in the county. Ten sites would be chosen, and the sculpture would remain in each of them for three months.

At the end of the three years, the installation would have a permanent home. The concept would be a sort of interactive “love letter to Pinellas County.” It would be created by a local artist.

St. Clair’s other suggestion was to artistically light the Bayside Bridge with LED bulbs. The Bayside was chosen because it links north and south Pinellas counties. Concerns over costs of maintenance and electric bills and fears of vandalism clouded that idea.

Several commissioners said they liked the traveling sculpture idea better.

“I like the idea of a love letter to Pinellas,” Commissioner Dave Eggers said. “That’s just perfect.”

Commissioners also questioned the $589,000 earmarked for an electric bus charging station in St. Petersburg. Although still supporting the idea, they set aside $118,000 of the line item to give St. Petersburg a chance to contribute that amount to the project.

 

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