JANUARY 18, 2023 MEETING
About 120 people turned out for our annual meeting, a wonderful expression of the neighborhood’s enthusiasm and support. Thanks go to all who turned out and for their contributions to the Lakewood spirit. Highlights:
Many of our newcomers stood up and introduced themselves, including a few who have been here for 2 years but arrived during Covid and have never had a chance to see us in action! It was nice to hear them all say such good things about us.
In a break from our usual ban on commerce, we introduced Louise Lavala, manager of the nearby Regions Bank on 54th A/S. Regions is the one and only bank in this area that has expressed an interest in working with us and being part of the community; in furtherance of that pledge, Ms. Lavala informed on her way out that she is going to contact our chief homeless advocate, Karin Stienemeier, to see what the bank can do to get its customers involved – perhaps a clothing drive.
The announcements from Karin and from her co-worker for the homeless and disadvantaged, Sheena DeFreece, have inspired us to put a formal name on these efforts, along with the Food Bank, the Animal Fund and the swimming lessons. And so we announce Lakewood Cares, which will also include Kris McTaggert, who volunteers at the Food Bank.
Our very efficient and helpful CSO, Dianeka Jones, whom we were eager to introduce, was in the ER with a son with a broken toe and sends her apologies. We haven’t had a CSO with her involvement, enthusiasm and cooperation since they took Dennis Kelly away from us in 2016!
Three nice folks from Duke Energy did their best to explain the mysterious way the power industry works when we have a major event like Hurricane Ian. They also responded to complaints about their contractor, Davie Tree Service, and provided some explanation for how they work. The bottom line is that we do have a direct connection to Duke and if there are ongoing problems, like trees engaging power lines, they can be relayed to the Association to be sent to Duke for attention.
The most energetic conversation centered around the neighborhood’s social activities, with many offering that they had good ideas and others requesting that a) we hold more than 2 events per year and b) we also go back to the original idea of encouraging people to form small groups of people with like interests, such as bridge or mah jonggh. It was generally agreed that we got a lot of “No’s” on the survey when we asked “Did you know we had a Fall Festival” because we should have asked “Did you know we had a picnic in November?” We used the wrong words. It was also agreed that the lower=than-expected turnout was mainly due to the fact that the first weekend in November is when people living in this climate crawl out of their a/c for the first time so there’s a lot going on. Timing is a problem.
The update on the dog park wsas essentially that we are at a standstill until we can convince the city to let us use the “green space” they are protecting. It wouild still be green space – it would just a fence around it! We will continue to work on ths.
It occurred to us after the meeting that the best solution is to form a social committee to plan events for Lakewood and to work to form those special groups. At this writing 7 members have volunteered and more are expected, so watch your email about this stuff.
Lois Ermatinger brought everyone up to date on the status of Maximo Elementary. Bottom line is that we did so well in 2021 that they don’t need anything so far this school year, and Lois will let us know if a need arises.
The meeting ended with 5 lovely door prizes courtesy of the efforts of Marlene Deutsch, and a 50/50 at a whopping $107 – I would thank the winner who graciously turned that money back to us but she was in the back of the room so I got a voice but no face. Anyone know?
Maximo Elementary School – Update
Our board members Sheena Qualles DeFreece and John and Lois Ermatinger were honored to be invited to participate in the May 6th opening of the school’s new media center. It’s mind-blowing to know that Lakewood’s selfless contributions made this possible. The staff couldn’t have been more appreciative and the students got their first look at their new fun space.
In addition to this awesome new student center, our contributions have the school totally stocked for supplies & backpacks to start the 2022/23 school year in August!!
We asked the staff what their needs would be for the next school year, and they gave us a few additional wish list items for the game room. Also, the other immediate need when next school year starts will be non-perishable snack & drink items for students who arrive at school too late for breakfast or who get picked up super late (or sadly, not at all) by their parents. We can put out a call for that closer to August when we revisit their needs.
As always, our neighborhood ROCKS!! Thanks go out to all who poarticipated and made this so much biggert han we could have ever hoped. Thanks to the incredible generosity of our membership and our neighboring businesses, such as the country club and the marina, we now have an ample supply of backpacks and classroom requirements. The need continues for school uniforms (pants and skorts in navy, light blue and white, and white polo shirts, in all kids sizes).
The new media room awaits the kids!
Sheena, John and Lois beam with pride for a job well done!
Outdoor Lighting Issue
In November 2022 the city strengthened its ordinance against light intrusion but a loophole in the ordinance has allowed some violators to continue. We expect that some time in the spring or summer of 2023 this loophole will be closed.
St. Petersburg’s efforts to improve the city’s outdoor light ordinance are supported by several organizations, including the Friends of Boyd Hill, the St. Petersburg Astronomy Club, the local Sierra and Audubon clubs, and the International Dark Sky Association.
Light pollution, the excessive or inappropriate use of outdoor artificial light, is affecting human health, wildlife behavior, and our ability to observe stars. Artificial light can wreak havoc on natural body rhythms in both humans and animals. Nocturnal light interrupts sleep and confuses the circadian rhythm—the internal, twenty-four-hour clock that guides day and night activities and affects physiological processes in nearly all living organisms.
Since most break-ins to homes occur during the day, when the houses are not occupied, lighting up your house at night is not really a crime deterrent. ln fact, a brightly lit house can show a burglar where the doors are, and the bright light itself creates “glare bombs,” very bright patches surrounded by very, very dark areas where someone can lurk without being seen.
Most outdoor lighting is poorly positioned, sending wasted electricity up into the sky. It is widely accepted that 40w is all you need to find your front door, and it should be aimed downward and shielded to prevent the light from intruding on your neighbor’s property and from creating problems for wildlife.
In April each year we begin collecting donations for free swimming lessons for the city’s underprivileged children so that the check can be given to the city as soon as school gets out for the summer. The city identifies the kids from their free lunch program rosters. Most of the children will get their lessons at Lake Vista but if you want your donation to be used at a differet pool, just let us know. A 2-week course is normally $35, out of the reach of a struggling family; the kids identified here get lessons for about $13, and that’s what we are paying for. Last year we raised $2700, providing lessons for about 198 children. Over the years the Association has done this for about 1000 children. Florida leads the nation in juvenile drownings and topped its own awful record in 2021 with 98 kids. You can donate by mailing a check to our PO Box (at the bottom of this page), payable to LECA with “swim” in the memo line, or use the Donation page on this site under About Us and identify your donation as “swim.” Every penny helps.
Food Bank Donations
We urge all our residents to help support the Food Bank operated by the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, located at 863 3rd Avenue North. You can drop food any morning at the loading dock behind the building. You can also bring items to 4117 Narvarez Way S., where a Food Bank volunteer lives — she will get it to the distribution center. Checks payable to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic can also be left there, or addressed to LECA and mailed to the post office box at the bottom of this page. Food and checks can also be left at the mailbox at 1874 Juarez Way S.
The Food Bank needs non-perishable items like canned meat, pasta, pasta sauce, beans, rice, cereal, canned vegetables, instant potatoes, coffee and tea . There is also a dire need for hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, tooth paste, toothbrushes, deodorant, diapers, women”s hygiene, and socks. And pet food: If you are having problems feeding your family, you are also having a problem feeding the family cat or dog. We have two Lakewood residents who are in constant touch with animal shelters and programs needing pet supplies.
Please clean up after your pet. It is against city ordinance to not pick up dog waste so please carry a bag and help keep your neighborhood safe and clean. There are bags for this purpose at the waste stations around Lakewood.
By city ordinance, you can place both your trash and recycle bins at the curb after 7 p.m. the night before collection. They must be moved back from the street by 7 p.m. on the day of collection.
Please be mindful of the 25 mph speed limit in Lakewood.
You are required to maintain the gutter in front of your property. This not only enhances the look of your property but also keeps water flowing into the storm drains. Standing water promotes algae growth and breeds mosquitoes. Do not blow yard debris into the street or the storm drains — this is illegal and can lead to fish kills and algae blooms. If you use a lawn service, please remind them of these important points.
Yard parking is illegal in this city as is the parking of a trailer, camper or commercial vehicle in your yard or driveway.
A tarp on a car must be 6″ off the ground so that the tires are visible; the tag must be visible and if not the tag ID information must be written on the tarp; and the tarp must be clean and not torn.
Out of courtesy for our golfers, Lakewood is a “No Noise” zone. If you like your music loud (and be aware that at a certain level you can get a $218 ticket from the city), please turn it down when you come into Lakewood. Babies, people who work nights, and the elderly are particularly sensitive to noise.
We’re Number One!
On October 22, 2018, the city reinstated its annual Neighborhood Partnership Awards, giving out plaques and certificates in categories such as best president, best project, etc. Lakewood Estates immediately took first place in Communications because of our triple approach — weekly bulletins, newsletters to every house by mail 5 times a year, and the web site. Then Bonnie Rocks received second place for “Neighborly Neighbor,” as the person who so selflessly takes care of the needs of those around her. But the most prized award, that of being the best neighborhood in the city, in a competition of 59 neighborhoods, went to us. We have always known it, and now the city knows it: This IS the best place to live in St. Petersburg! Here’s a shot of President Judy Ellis receiving the award from Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Group Home — What are the issues?
We know that there are residents in Lakewood who are not happy about the ongoing pressure to do something about the group home at 1795 Lakewood Drive – they believe we are not being fair to the young people who live there. In fact it is the welfare of those kids that concerns us.
The bottom line is the state’s failure to properly staff and fund its Department of Children and Families with the result that the needs of kids removed from troubled homes are not being met. We have all seen the horror stories in the papers of kids sleeping in cars and under desks at DCF offices because there is nowhere to put them.
We don’t have a lot of choices about ways to fix this but one of them is to bring pressure on the state, through our representatives in Tallahassee, to focus on this problem and get proper funding. Unfortunately, we do not hear from our house rep or our senator except when it’s time to raise money for re-election. The one time we did ask for help by going directly to our state rep, he sent two young ladies to listen to our pleas – they nodded and took notes and went back to Tallahassee, never to be heard from again.
In 2021, Eckerd Connects ceased its contract with the state to house children removed from abusive homes. We are in contact with the new contractor to make them aware of what we have seen, largely dishonesty in communication and a failure to ensure that those who are housing these kids know what they’re doig. We hope to see improvements.
We want to assure everyone that we want only the best possible living arrangements for those forgotten children — by making things uncomfortable for their caretakers and the agencies, we hope to draw attention to the larger problem of a state that will spend millions to put highways where no one wants them but will not allocate enough resources to take care of its own children.
If you have a book to share, or want to borrow one, there is a neighborhood ‘library’ in a display box at the curb at 1912 Bonita Way South. Bring a book, take a book, pass the books around. There is another on the corner of Narvarez and Cortez.
Fishing in the ponds – what’s the problem?
Here is an explanation that will allow Lakewoodians to better understand the fishing situation and enable us to explain it to outsiders who want to fish here.
The bottom line is that it is in the interest of everyone who lives here to ensure that the Country Club and the golf course continue to thrive. Without the golf course, we are just another St Pete neighborhood. All that open space, all that greenery and blue sky, all that wildlife is what sets us apart and makes us special. It doesn’t matter whether you play golf or even belong to the Club – the value of your home depends in large part on the health of the golf course.
Trespass. Most of the ponds are in areas that belong to the Country Club so that anyone wanting to fish in them has to trespass over Club property. No one who is not a member of the Country Club has any business on the course. Very often after one person begins fishing an area, others join in and create groups large enough to become a real hazard for the golfers. Little children are often left to wander around dangerously close to the water – and there isn’t a single pond on this course that doesn’t have at least one resident alligator.
Danger. A golf ball travels at least 90 mph and does considerable damage when it makes contact with a human head. Golfers often cannot see what’s ahead of them and have to trust that no one is foolish enough to be sitting in their path.
Fish. The fish are put in the ponds and paid for by the Club to keep down the alga. Golfers do not want to play among scummy ponds that smell. The fish are therefore not up for public grabs. Moreover, the fish are full of pesticides and fertilizer and are suitable for ingestion only by birds (who mercifully don’t seem to be affected, if the success of our osprey nests is any indication).
Intrusion. Many of the people who want to fish here do not understand the protocols and rules governing golf courses. They pull their cars up onto the easement (which is illegal) and then walk right into the path of golfers preparing to swing.
Parking and Litter. Along with a lack of knowledge about proper behavior, those wanting to fish often park illegally and leave behind dead or dying fish, litter, and/or beer bottles. In some areas, people pulling their cars up on the rights of way – also illegal – have destroyed the grass and turned the area into a sand lot. Someone has to pay to fix that.
Cast nets. A lot of fishing folk prefer cast nets, which quickly get them a lot of fish to sell for bait. Unfortunately, cast nets are illegal everywhere in this city except Lake Maggiore. And again, that ‘bait’ is really stocked fish owned by the Club so this is nothing more or less than stealing. In Mid-April of 2021, an anhinga nearly died after being ensnarled in a cast new that had been discarded in a pond.
There are people who believe that if they are sitting on a city right-of-way, they are on public property and can therefore fish. They can in fact stay on that public property all day long… but they cannot fish. Once they put that rod in the water, they are trespassing.
What you can do
If you see someone fishing in one of the course’s ponds (and the only one that isn’t Club property is Summit Lake, the entire rim of which is privately owned by residents), you can point out that they are on private property and politely ask them to leave. This rarely works. You can then let them know the police are being called and move away. Or call the club at 867-2111 during business hours (ask for the pro shop or the manager), or call the police non-emergency number at 893-7780, and/or notify the Association president at 460-1586.