Jeff Kronschnabl, who started working with the city as a police officer in 1972, came to the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatics Complex Tuesday with a wheeled cart holding four boxes filled with paperwork.
Inside contained the history of the development and redevelopment of North Greenwood including paving old dirt roads, cleaning up the water treatment facility and getting the recreation center built.
“This (the North Greenwood Recreation Center) would have never happened, never assume it would have happened,” Kronschnabl said. “Many thought this wasn’t necessary. My vote goes for Walter Cornelius Campbell and I’ve got the evidence to show it.”
The standing room only crowd cheered as Kronschnabl lead off the public discussion at the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting about a plan to rename the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex.
“This is a little unusual for our board and we are very happy for you to be here,” said Ray Shaw, chairman of the volunteer board.
The group was tasked to come up with three name options for the City Council to choose at its June 7 meeting at City Hall.
The room was slightly divided between honoring Campbell, the community leader who for 36 years was pastor at Bayview Baptist Church or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who’s nearby center closed.
The possible names include:
- Walter C. Campbell Sr. Recreation and Aquatic Complex
- Walter C. Campbell Sr. Community Center
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center
The idea of not naming the center after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not sit well with Talmadge Rutledge, who was against building the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex to begin with.
“It’s a slap in the face to this community to do away with the Martin Luther King Center and not have a replacement for it,” Rutledge said.
The Martin Luther King Center was closed because of costly repairs needed to the structure. The center was operated under an agreement between the city and Pinellas County Schools, who owned the building and land.
The city and is offering many of the programs there.
Wade Clark, a lifelong area resident who said he was the first African American to graduate from Mirror Lake police academy, said a group he is working with has come together with a plan to save the center.
“We are negotiating a lease with the school board to reopen the old center and with that I would welcome and get the support of everyone in this room so we can do things as a community,” Clark said.
Jonathan Wade, a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, asked the room for a hand raise vote. Should the center be renamed after Campbell or King?
Nearly every hand raised for Campbell.
“It’s a bittersweet day in North Greenwood once again,” Wade said. “It would be a sad thing to rename this center and then reopen the other one.”
*updated 6:52 p.m. April 27.