What has been long suspected is now out - Largo is mulling plans for dramatic development in the West Bay corridor between Seminole Boulevard and Clearwater-Largo Road.
For months, the city surreptitiously has been buying property (paying way over market in one notable instance) and the popular Community Center was viewed by many as in danger.
There was talk of moving it to the old library building. In fact, some rhetoric (floated in the ever willing Big Paper) attempted to make this sound like a done deal.
It is a modest building but there are those who love it. Ask Penny Janowski.
Hey, don't get in a scrap with a Northwest Florida gal when something she deems is important is at stake.
Janowski, a long term resident of Largo after making the trek down from the Panhandle years ago, Janowski cites two factors in not messing with the Community Center.
They are versatility and location.
And what are the three most important things in real estate? Right - location, location, location.
Location is what city honchos hope will sell their plans for development expansion in the area - and expansion going up, up, up (literally).
But listen to Penny Janowski -
"The versatility - the large room, with the high ceiling, can seat 400 people - more than the Cultural Center; have a program or performance needing a stage and curtain; offer a full and complete kitchen where food can be prepared for large gatherings; and also host a multiplicity of athletic programs."
Janowski stood before the City Commission a few weeks ago during citizen comments and urged saving the Community Center.
She has now pointed out that during its history the center has housed a multiplicity of sports programs - basketball, volleyball, badminton, among others.
Janowski points out that her baton twirling program and the Tutterow Dance program both flourished in the building. This large room was totally rebuilt in 1990.
Not only that but the center is a site for luncheons and entertainments for senior citizens.
Other kinds of functions, she points out, that are now held in the high ceiling community center that just would not work in the old library building.
As to location, Janowski says, "Some weeks ago I heard a former Largo official say 'Largo is moving east.' Well, Largo may be 'expanding east,' but longtime residents of west and northwest, south and southwest Largo would be quick to tell you they are not moving anywhere."
She points out that there is a large and extensive recreation facility in southwest Largo, a new park is scheduled in east Largo and the Highland Avenue complex includes vast recreation facilities.
"But," Janowski emphasizes, "the only recreation facility we have in Northwest Largo is the Community Center. The citizens in west Largo and northwest Largo deserve to have a facility that is easy for them to get to without having to cross Missouri Avenue and sit in traffic to reach the old library."
Then she gets to the heart of the issue - "With land being a valuable commodity in Largo why would we want to sell a prime piece of property at this time? The property the Community Center sits on is certainly not going to get less valuable - it will only get more valuable. And I imagine the increase of the value of the property is going to be much more than the 'interest' you could earn on the proceeds of selling the property at this time."
Of course, with development, the city increases its tax base and that is the real reason for quietly buying up all the property around the Community Center, planning to move it and then bring in tax paying businesses and perhaps residents in condominiums.
Keep in mind, the appetite for tax money is limitless in a city administration that is dedicated to spend, spend, spend.
Janowski's final point suggests that instead of trying to define a "downtown" area, that once the Community Center is ditched, the process is completed moving all city offices and facilities out of the "oldest downtown section of Largo."
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition