At their August 22 meeting, the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners approved the Sunday re-opening of the Weedon Island and Brooker Creek Centers. We expect that this will take effect October 1 with the start of the 2017 fiscal year.
When Weedon Island’s Center was completed in 2002 it was open to the public from Wednesday through Sunday. Reduced revenues from 2008’s plunge in housing values and tourists led to significant reductions in the County’s budget and Center hours were reduced to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
With the economy on the upswing, Friends of Weedon Island passed a resolution requesting the County to re-open its Center on Sundays. St. Ptersburg Councilman Jim Kennedy, a Friend’s Board Member, took the resolution to County Administrator Mark Woodard for his consideration. In the preliminary budget to the commissioners, Mr. Woodard added $80K to both Weedon Island and Brooker Creek Preserves’ annual operating budgets to return the Centers to their previous Wednesday-Sunday open hours.
Initially, the commissioners did not approve the additional expense, electing instead to continue the Thursday-Saturday hours. Following continued advocacy via letters, emails, and personal contact from the Friends of both Preserves, Councilman Kennedy, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, the commissioners agreed to reconsider the additional budget request. Ultimately, they agreed to an additional $50K that will allow both centers to be open Thursday through Sunday.
Thanks to all who lent their support to this important achievement. And special thanks to the commissioners for their willingness to reconsider their original decision!