People who live at the edge of cities often face special difficulties.
Just ask Jennifer Garwood.
She lives in St. Petersburg on the edge of Kenneth City near the border with unincorporated Lealman. Like many in that situation, she and her neighbors often have trouble getting city services because officials can be unclear about who’s in what jurisdiction.
Take the garbage service. Even with St. Pete waste containers “we get passed over time and time,” Garwood said.
And now, it’s about to get worse.
That’s because Kenneth City has erected a brand new “Welcome to Kenneth City” sign at 62nd Street and 42nd Avenue North. Trouble is, the sign is not in Kenneth City. It’s actually in the unincorporated Lealman area. That makes garbage truck drivers, and others, think they’re in Kenneth City when they’re not, Garwood said.
“It’s ridiculous,” Garwood said of the service issues. “Then they put the sign there. … My initial inclination was they just put it on the wrong side of the bridge.”
Adding to the service and safety issues is the matter of aesthetics.
“I think the sign is ugly,” Garwood said. “It’s this concrete sign …. It’s an ugly sign right there.”
She wrote an email to Kenneth City Council members, Town Manager Matt Campbell, and Pinellas County Commissioners Ken Welch, Janet Long, and Charlie Justice. It was titled “ACTION REQUIRED — Assistance with Sign Removal.”
In it, Garwood pointed out the safety and service problems with the sign placement:
“The new sign makes it difficult to see oncoming foot and car traffic when traveling on 42nd Avenue. (Students from nearby Dixie Hollins High School utilize this path walking home and there is a bus stop directly adjacent from the new sign.)
“The new sign is in direct opposition to the Welcome to St. Petersburg sign.
“Residents on 42nd Avenue North contact the city of St. Petersburg Sanitation Department many times during the year (can be verified by the department), due to garbage collection truck drivers skipping pickups on 42nd Avenue North because they do not believe our street is within St. Petersburg city limits (although we have city collection containers). The new sign’s placement will not help with this issue, only increase current confusion.
“I have already worked with the U.S. Postal Service to correct their system error, which previously only allowed Kenneth City to appear as a city selection for the Florida zip code 33709. It now allows city selection of St. Petersburg, Florida, as well. The new sign’s placement will only increase confusion by postal employees delivering mail.”
She included photographs to illustrate her points.
Campbell, the town manager, said the sign is one of six Kenneth City has planted near town entranceways over the past few weeks. Before the signs were erected, he said, the town got a permit from the county for all six. Part of that process, he said, was making sure the signs were not in sight triangles and were on available right of way, which is limited in certain areas.
Campbell agreed the sign is not at the Kenneth City border, but said it doesn’t have to be because it’s “a welcome sign, not a city limits sign.”
On the other hand, Campbell said, the St. Petersburg sign across the street is a city limits sign, so its placement has to be on the line.
Campbell conceded the town could move the sign. But, he said, given the limited right of way and other issues in the area, the sign would have to go north of the bridge over Joe’s Creek. But doing that, he said, would mean drivers are inside Kenneth City before they’re welcomed. Kenneth City residents who would be living south of the sign might be unhappy, he said.
Campbell said, however, that Garwood has some valid concerns.
“If there’s a significant hubbub over it, we could move it,” Campbell said.