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Forum planned to discuss vision for Rio Vista
On Wednesday, July 25, the Rio Vista park forum begins at 7 p.m. at the St. Petersburg Presbyterian Church at 600 83rd Ave. NE. The forum is being held to discuss conceptual plans for the design of the proposed park at Rio Vista Elementary School, located in the northeastern section of the city.
Here is some background: in 2009, Rio Vista Elementary closed down—a symptom of a controversial move from the Pinellas County School Board as they close down eight district schools to save money.
Since that time, the school located on 8 acres of property has sat vacant.
Almost a year ago, the city began discussions and planning to demolition the existing buildings on the site and transforms the property into a neighborhood park.
In fact, in August of 2011 the Tampa Bay Times reported that the city proposed to rent the property from the school district at a rate of $1 per year for 50 years to create the park, which could include a playground, tennis and basketball courts, and running trails.
It was further reported that the City Council had set aside about $1.6 million to pay for the demolition and construction, and Parks and Recreation was drafting a lease proposal for review by the School Board.
City Councilmember Jim Kennedy has been enthusiastically in support of this project from the beginning, along with many others in the neighborhood.
“Since the property has become vacant, it has become a little bit of a trouble spot — like any vacant property attracts potential problems,” Kennedy said. “So the neighborhoods were for something on a little more active side.”
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