A plan to make it easier for kayakers to launch their boats and park next to a waterway at Puryear Park was opposed Thursday by some neighbors.
The St. Petersburg City Council heard from a pair of neighbors armed with a petition of 123 signatures from people living near Puryear Park, which is off 62nd Avenue NE.
At issue is a kayak launch tucked next to the Edgemoor Estates neighborhood, at 55th Avenue NE and 2nd Street North.
The city has plans to make it eaiser for people with kayaks to park in a small grassy lot and launch their boats. The lot is right next to Michele Williams' house.
"This is jeopardizing our neighborhood," homeowner Michele Williams told Council members. Williams said that she is worried that special parking for kayakers will encourage after-hours use of this section of the park and break-ins of homes along the waterway.
"It will become a hangout for high schools in the area," Williams said, referring to nearby Canterbury School of Florida and Shorecrest, both private prep schools nearby, as well as Northeast High School.
Canterbury has plans to use the launch for kayaking excursions by students studying the marine environment. The school also has volunteered to be stewards of the waterway that runs along the southern perimeter of the park.
But Williams also raised concerns about disturbing wildlife along the water corridor that kayakers use, including nesting roseate spoonbills.
She told the Council that she was presenting a letter of concern from the Audobon Society about increased use of the waterway, which is lined with mangroves.
Neighbor Sandy Bonnell also spoke, saying that "this canal is a sanctuary for birds... We were never notified" of these plans.
Councilor Bill Dudley responded that the city planned to allow parking on the lot for only three vehicles at a time. He said that the concerns raised seem out of proportion for the anticipated use of the kayak launch.
He described the parking availability as an "enhancement," noting that the grassy lot would stay as it is; a metal gate across the lot would be moved to allow for kayakers to park. Right now, kayakers are parking along 55th Avenue NE next to houses.
Councilor Jim Kennedy agreed. He said that the parking plans allow for an expansion of the city's revered blueways.