ST. PETERSBURG – Recognizing the need to provide positive outlets to children in Midtown, the Police Athletic League (PAL) of St. Petersburg is opening a new facility at 820 20th St. S. this month.
After working more than two years to find an affordable location in Midtown, which has one of the highest juvenile crime rates in Pinellas County, PAL has partnered with the 20th Street South Church of Christ, who provided one of its buildings for the program.
The public is invited to a grand opening celebration at the 7,500 square-foot facility, which is the church’s former sanctuary, at 4 p.m. this Fri., June 12. Speakers will include St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Assistant Police Chief James Previtera.
The event features activities for youth including giant over-sized games of Jenga and Connect Four, an appearance by the Tampa Bay Rays’ mascot Raymond and youth performances by PAL’s Good Girls Rock.
“It has been the desire of PAL Board of Directors to provide services for children in the Midtown area for some time because we know many children from the area struggle to get to our facility at 1450 16th St. N.,” said PAL chairman W.G. Spoor.
PAL Midtown programming began on June 8 with a summer day camp for 60 children. Plans are to offer an after school program in the fall. More programs will be added as funding and need is determined. A St. Petersburg police officer will split his time between the two PAL locations.
“Up until this point, there have been few positive outlets for our youth,” said Larry Collins, associate minister of the church. “By partnering with PAL, the church is helping to build a strong community where residents will want to stay.”
PAL of St. Petersburg is a 501c3 organization that provides affordable educational, afterschool and athletic programs and also summer camp for children and teens. In partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department, PAL also provides mentoring and crime prevention programs.
Initial remodeling, painting, flooring and electrical work for the 7,500 square-foot facility cost $11,000, mostly provided by one PAL board member. In May, St. Petersburg City Council approved $90,000 that PAL will use to put on a new roof, replace a broken air conditioning system, power wash and paint the facility, put up a new fence and install an emergency alarm system.
PAL Midtown’s first year operating costs will be covered by a $25,000 matching grant from Terry McCarthy, a former PAL board member and owner of TJM, as well as PAL board members and staff and local foundations.
Fundraising events are planned including one already held last month at
3 Daughters Brewing located along the 22nd Street South corridor. Individuals and businesses interested in partnering with PAL can contact Executive Director, Doug Linder at 727-800-1PAL (1725).