Connecting an Underserved Community in Pinellas

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By Hilary Lehman, Forward Pinellas

Residents of Lealman and Kenneth City could soon have a safe, healthy option for transportation in their area – one that doesn’t require a car.

Forward Pinellas and consultant AECOM, in collaboration with Pinellas County, are in the midst of a planning study that is the first step in making that option a reality. This study, which will be completed by the end of May, will identify a preferred route for a planned shared-use trail that would generally follow Joe’s Creek through the Lealman area in southern Pinellas County.

Partially funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) program, the study is designed to focus resources to increase safe walking and bicycling opportunities in traditionally underserved communities. According to the United States Census, the median household income in the study area is about 24 percent below the countywide average, 5 percent of households do not own a car, and the area has very few sidewalks and bicycle facilities. The five-mile, east-west trail would provide a safe way to travel across the county by connecting residents to the Pinellas Trail, area schools, shopping centers, and other destinations.

In addition to this project, Forward Pinellas recently awarded $100,000 in grant funds to Pinellas County for a complete streets project just north of the study area along 54th Avenue between 34th and 49th streets, ensuring that there are future investments to better address the mobility needs of the community.

“We are really excited to partner with Pinellas County to bring our highly successful trail planning program into the Lealman area,” said Rodney Chatman, planning division manager for Forward Pinellas. “This area has suffered from disinvestment for a number of years, and we are hoping to use this project as a catalyst to positively impact the daily lives of area residents.”

An open house to collect community input will be held on May 11, 2017, from 6–8 p.m. at 5175 45th St N., St. Petersburg, FL 33714. For more information, contact Alicia Parinello at Forward Pinellas (727) 464-8250 or Rachel Booth at Pinellas County Planning (727) 464-8200.

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