St. Pete seeks input on Al Lang Stadium site

02/07/08 Seán Kinane
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The St. Petersburg City Council approved a resolution today that will seek public input on alternative uses for the current site of Al Lang Field.

Several members of the public said they want the land to become a waterfront park, not a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Al Lang site was not originally on the agenda for considering land development regulations. But Council member Jeff Danner added a resolution calling for public input regarding future use for the site.

The city has lost the trust of some members of the public due to dealings with the Rays. But Danner’s resolution helped get the council out of that hot water, according to Peter Belmont, a board member of the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA).

“This has been an issue that has been bubbling for a period of time because the city has revised their land development regulations including the zoning for downtown properties. Within the process they created a new park-zoning district, which we never had in the past and for some reason, the city decided to apply the park zoning to the other downtown parks but not the Al Lang property. And we have been asking the city to correct that ever since they adopted the new regulations in August. At that time the council’s response was they would take it up in what they referred to as a ‘Glitch Ordinance.’ The Glitch Ordinance was before City Council today and there was nothing in it regarding changing Al Lang to park.”

The absence of any mention of the Al Lang site in the Glitch Ordinance is further evidence that the city is not being straight with voters, according to Willie Rudowski who said the council voted in August to change the zoning of the Al Lang site to allow development.

The Rays want a new $450-million waterfront baseball stadium at the site of Al Lang Stadium, but say they can only pay for about one-third of the cost, they want the government to foot the rest of the bill. Part of the funds would come from getting out of the lease of their current home, Tropicana Field, and selling the land to developers who will build retail and residential units. The city is currently seeking proposals for such development.

Faith Andrews Bedford said that rather than the site of a new stadium for the Rays, the Al Lang land should be an open waterfront park.

Before St. Petersburg City Council Chair James Bennett called for a vote, which was unanimous in favor of Danner’s resolution to call for public comment on future uses of the Al Lang site, Bennett defended the council. He said it has considered designating the Al Lang site as a park.

The Rays want a referendum on their stadium proposal to be on this November’s ballot. If that passes, it could override the Glitch Ordinance zoning for the Al Lang site. There will be public hearing before a second reading of the Glitch Ordinance on Feb. 21.

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Previous WMNF coverage of Rays’ stadium hopes

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