Episode 84

St Pete X features business and civic leaders in St. Petersburg Florida who share their insight, expertise and love of our special city. An initiative of the St. Petersburg Group, St Pete X strives to connect and elevate the city by sharing the voices of its citizens, and to bring awareness to the opportunities offered by the great St. Petersburg renaissance.

10/01/2022 | Episode 84 | 38:19

Peter Belmont - Preserve the Burg

Peter Belmont see cities through a special lens. It reveals to him the elements – the buildings, districts, and neighborhoods – that comprise the DNA of a place.

From this DNA comes character, the character that shapes a community that in turn shapes our individual lives.

Experience has shown Peter that not everyone can see the connection between the elements and the outcome. Newer, bigger, more profitable projects are enticing. There’s a lot of money and political gain to be had from such ‘progress’. But those short term gains can lead to long term losses for a city if they mutate its DNA too much.

Peter has dedicated much of his life to preserving a healthy civic DNA. As a lawyer, an advocate and a historian Peter has been a multi-faceted champion for St Petersburg. He is willing to go toe to toe in the court room and step by step on walking tours.

His impact on St Petersburg is immense and worth celebrating, and that’s what we do in episode 84 of St Pete X.

Joe Hamilton 0:06
You’re listening to St. Pete X. Today’s episode is brought to you by Cityverse, Cityverse brings the community together on a new Civic Platform powered by Catalyst news, St. Pete Cityverse is launching soon. You can learn more and reserve your Homespace at Cityverse.life. Now enjoy the conversation.

Joining me on SPX is Peter Belmont. Welcome, sir,

Peter Belmont 0:50
Hi – happy to join in with you.

Joe Hamilton 0:53
it’s good to have you. Lots to cover in our time. You’re most well known, or one of the things you’re well known for in St. Petersburg is your preservation work. But there’s a lot more to what you’ve spent your your time and your life doing. I think it’s it’s important to start, speaking of time in life, with a diagnosis you just received, which is a pretty aggressive form of cancer. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how you came to find out,

Peter Belmont 1:24
This spring, I happened to be seeing my primary care doctor, and she ordered a blood screen and it came back with some some strange results. And so it’s the old story of why don’t we try this test or that test and see if we find anything. And that led to their finding bladder cancer that I had the original, if you want to say a treatment plan was chemo followed by surgery. And I went downhill pretty quick. I’m not sure the doctors understand quite why. But the bottom line result of that was I was no longer viable for the treatment plan. And so in essence, you can say that cancer was expected to be terminal, I had almost stopped eating at one point and thought that it wasn’t going to be too long, I’ve started eating again and picked up some strength. And next week, I’ll be checking in with doctors again to see if I’m well enough to start any treatment.

Joe Hamilton 2:27
So a little hope in there, which is nice. And when when the initial sort of concerns came back, you didn’t really feel anything, this was all just, you know, kind of stats on on paper at that point.

Peter Belmont 2:39
Right. You know, apropos for myself, that doctor’s appointment, where I first went in, I bicycled to the appointment, so I was feeling fine. As far as I was concerned.

Joe Hamilton 2:53
And, you know, as, as you’ve gone through this journey, the cancer sort of kicking up and becoming more aggressive. What’s been sort of the predominant – how has the emotional journey been?

Peter Belmont 3:08
You know, obviously, it’s all a bit strange. Both my parents lived about 90, 91. I’m turning 68 this spring. So, you know, it’s a bit strange in the context of my parents lived a long life and didn’t quite seem to be in the cards for me. I’m actually in Oregon presently. I have a home here in Oregon as well. And it’s also a bit strange to think about –  I’m not sure I’ll ever St. Pete again, and the many friends that I have there who’ve been great in terms of offering me support, but all that is, you know, a little different and strange to think about as well as just the idea that okay, to the extent it’s terminal, you know, how are the final days and you never quite know how long it’s going to be?

Joe Hamilton 4:00
And what has been your your, what have you been driven to do, if you think about it in terms of final days?

Peter Belmont 4:06
Well, when again, when I’d grown very weak, and really was not reading anymore. I was virtually in bed the whole time. And so, you know, in terms of my dreams for St. Pete, it’s wonderful to see what’s happening in St. Pete on one hand, but on the other hand, it would be, you know, wonderful to appropriately balance what we have that’s special in St. Pete with the growth that’s going on. And I don’t think we’ve gotten there yet. So I at times think about the future of the city and will we reach that balance or are we going to turn more into you know, anywhere USA or lose some of the attractiveness that is making us such a wonderful place and attracting so many people now.

Joe Hamilton 4:59
And now Obviously, whenever you have an existential experience, you just tend to distill things down to first principles. And a lot of the stuff becomes immediately unimportant. So when you distill down your, your work and your memories, I’m going to start with St. Pete and then maybe dig into some, some broader topics. But, you know, when all that when all the fat gets cut away what’s left as far as your your core emotions, and, you know, core happiness and core worries for for St. Pete,

Peter Belmont 5:30
I’d say dating back decades, I always felt, and very few people, I think, had this feeling that I could have been, if you want to call it a chamber booster for St. Petersburg and telling, you know, others around the country, what a wonderful city we have. Clearly, we had the incredible waterfront, we were a city that had a lot of character to it. So I don’t think I was quite accepted as a booster for St. Petersburg in many ways. And so it’s to some degree, I think, unfortunate that for part of the development community, I’ve been viewed as more of a hindrance than a partner who we can find common ground and work together to, you know, reach a better community.

Joe Hamilton 6:17
And it’s a funny thing, when you know, the word advocate or even activist is used to describe you. But if you sort of break that down, to me, it seems like there’s a space and there’s a developer who wants to build something on that space. And they want to do that, because it’s their profession. And they want to make profit from it. And, you know, you see it as a space where you know, you want an end result to be different, you know, and you both have your own motivations, but you’d be labeled as, as an activist, when in reality, it’s just sort of two sides of the same coin is wanting to have a space be a thing yet the developer, because it’s, I guess, professional, there’s money involved, or there’s newness involved, isn’t considered an advocate or an activist for what they want. It’s kind of a strange juxtaposition.

Peter Belmont 7:03
It is. I mean, when we kind of focused on historic preservation for the moment, I think most successful cities have an advocacy organization pushing along historic preservation issues. You know, some of the more historic cities you can think of in terms of Savannah, as one example. But most cities of any size, have that advocacy organization. And so I think in ways that if I hadn’t pushed the advocacy envelope like I have over the decades and Preserve the Burg wasn’t there, there would be a different group. It’s just part of a successful city having that advocacy present. And we should, I think, in many ways, obviously embrace it, rather than kind of try to push it to the side. I also think when we look at kind of the big picture of St. Pete, particularly downtown, that when we put the zoning rules in place for downtown, nobody could dream of what is happening downtown today. And so my perspective, in some ways is that downtown, which essentially runs for zoning purposes, Fifth Ave north to Fifth Ave south, kind of anything goes as far as development. And if we had realized what is happening today, maybe we would have had better rules in place to be sure that the development we’re getting is the best possible development. And I think that’s one of the factors that is oftentimes overlooked that, especially in today’s time, the developers are going to tell the city no. Yeah, if the rules said you got to do better development in what’s going on today, they’re not going to walk away from the city, they’re going to produce better development.

Joe Hamilton 8:50
Well, that leads me not a few few paths that I’d like to walk, but when it comes to zoning, can you kind of talk about the role of the mayor, the mayor, obviously has to balance development and raising the tax base and, you know, the the actual, you know, the perception of progress and actual progress versus keeping character. So if you were to advise a mayor on how best to do that, what would you what would you tell them and looking back through the mayors you’ve worked with since the 70s, who do you feel is gotten that the most?

Peter Belmont 9:22
I think, first of all, we need to understand what makes St. Pete special. I think one of the failings for the city is to look at that broad perspective and identify what makes us special and either develop the rules that will protect that or develop some type of planning process, master planning process that will address that on into the future. I can say ironically, since I probably would get the label and in the political world as being liberal. I think one of the mayors that was actually more effective with that was Rick Baker, and in 2010  St. Pete preservation Preserve the Burg sponsored a number of events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our waterfront park system. And there were a number of events where Rick and I would be present to talk about what was coming up for the centennial celebration. He’s very much a fan of history and of St. Pete’s history. And there’s an old story about one of our former mayors from way back who helped promote the city. And the city had one of the first PR people in the country. And so there was a story about the Purity League and how the Purity League wanted to make sure that the women’s bathing suits were not coming too far up the leg. And the quote from Mayor Polver over that actually appeared in The New York Times was, that he’ll be sure to address the issue and he’ll look them over. So I used to joke with Rick that the only reason he became a mayor and knowing history was that he thought he would be able to look them over as well. And he would joke with me that I stole the waterfront and the centennial to the waterfront, when in fact, is one of the larger dredge and fill projects that’s ever occurred in the city.

Joe Hamilton 11:14
And you mentioned that you’ve been working with developers and the mayor’s been seen as a hindrance, you know, the word activist is used sometimes is Do you think it’s, you know, and also, you know, coming from your law background, understanding the mechanics of negotiation, is it really the duty of the, you know, the advocacy group to start a little further in one direction, knowing that meeting in the middle is likely and by almost coming in to, too in the middle already, you’re just simply moving the middle closer to the developer side. And sometimes that gets, you know, holding that position initially, can get you, you know, maybe a, a rap or whatever, but in reality, it’s just pragmatism and knowing that you’re gonna meet in the middle eventually.

Peter Belmont 12:01
I guess I’d say, first of all, I think part of the role that the advocacy group plays is to try to, so to speak, push the envelope, whether that be with zoning rules, or protecting neighborhoods, whatever it may be. But in order for it to be successful, one has to be able to build relationships and to, you know, forge compromises. So there’s both those aspects to it. I think one of the difficulties for advocacy organizations in almost any field is that, you know, it’s largely a volunteer based organization. And it’s so difficult as a volunteer to keep up with things, the developer clearly has an identified interest in what happens with the project, they’re being paid to work on it, and to, and to go through the process. And so it’s hard for citizens to keep up with those types of issues and what’s going on.

Joe Hamilton 13:02
And I think that speaks to how critical Preserve the Burg has been, because, so that it comes out of just the world of activist versus developer, educating the public and informing the public getting citizens roots into their history. And, and the specialness to be able to articulate it and celebrate it. And that goes so far in building up the base of influence. And you’ve done a fantastic I think, Preserve the Burg is 1000 members strong and just super important.

Peter Belmont 13:33
Yeah, if you want to say, you know, we’ve used the moniker advocate, educate and celebrate, you know, from the educational perspective, both myself as well as others have done a lot of walking and bicycle tours to try and, you know, further people’s familiarity with what we have that’s so special in St. Pete. And clearly, we’ve spent a lot of long hours sitting in council chambers, in terms of advocating, you know, what we think should happen.

Joe Hamilton 14:05
And when you think about the trajectory of interest in topics that Preserve the Burg puts forth, hadn’t been at this for a couple of decades, as we’ve grown into the internet age with so much, so many people diving into social medias and YouTubes of the world and so much history content being put forth out there. Have you seen, has it become more of a struggle, not so much the battle? Maybe battling apathy has become a larger problem and getting people interested in the topics with so much competition out there for their attention?

Peter Belmont 14:40
Well, I think one of the things that I I see is like what’s happening in a political world and I think it’s becoming harder to move forward, because in many ways, there’s less of a desire to really compromise and define those solutions. To protect, for example, the Driftwood neighborhood, there was a small group in Driftwood that was strongly opposed to creating an historic district there, Mirror Lake, we feel that the city should really take steps to protect the unique character of the area around Mirror Lake. And there’s been just a lot of, I think, again, misinformation and sharp edges to, to what’s happening in terms of considering that, when I think that oftentimes there’s much more that we can agree on than we disagree about. So it’s not just are there other things that are taking people’s attention. I think to a certain degree, that the idea of talking about what keeps your community special, and the character, that community, you know, is always something that a lot of people are not going to concern themselves about. But it’s also ironic, say, for example, again, Driftwood that, essentially everybody who lives their lives there because it’s such a special neighborhood. And so you’re back to that question, how do you, for the future, ensure that that special character and feel remains

Joe Hamilton 16:17
When you when you break down the word special, because Preserve the Burg has gotten so much attention for buildings, and areas, but you widely also talk about arts and small businesses and things like that. So if you could try to explain what special means to you for a place, how would you break that down?

Peter Belmont 16:39
I guess I’d say again, if you want to call it big picture, what are the attributes that we as a community have that are not commonly found in other communities? Clearly, when we think about St. Petersburg, one aspect to that is our waterfront. One aspect is that we have wonderful, and I’m going to use the word historic, but older neighborhoods from the 20s boom era. And then, you know, as we got more into suburban development, post World War Two, there’s still some wonderful resources from that era. And then as you mentioned, you have your cultural aspects to your community. And so in a lot of ways, all of that is very fleeting, or it can be in so again, I think it takes some recognition that those are the values that we have in our community that are not present in every community. And again, it’s a planning process to both identify those special characteristics, as well as coming up with the plan to try and make sure that we have them for the future.

Joe Hamilton 17:44
I wanted to get your take on a couple of specific locations and one that’s that’s pretty interesting right now is Albert Whitted, certainly has a place in St. Pete as utility, you know, ironically, the utility may be more akin to supporting gentrification, than not, but yet it’s still, you know, this is definitely, without doubt part of our character. What are sort of your thoughts on Albert Whitted?

Peter Belmont 18:09
I actually was gonna say 2008, but I was the chair of the group that was seeking to convert the airport from airport use to park land. And, again, along the ideas that, you know, one of our greatest assets is the waterfront park system, and it would present an opportunity to expand that. We had to get a lot of signatures to get put on the ballot. And then that ballot question was overwhelmingly voted down. So you know, it’s a big piece of property, the city is changing. So what is the best use for it, we have a growing university, we’ve tried a couple of different things in taking advantage of the harbor. So I agree with the perspective that we should take a look at that property and try and have some discussion about what is the best use for it. Part of that campaign for expanding the park system on that property was, was really based upon no more condos, which I don’t think was a very accurate depiction of what would happen there. Under the park proposal, it would become waterfront parks subject to referendum requirements, that would be a change of use. But you raise the big question, do we leave it be as the airport use? Or do we explore what other options alternatives might be best for that property as the city continues to grow and change?

Joe Hamilton 19:45
It’s interesting because as we’ve covered the story in the Catalyst, the large majority of the comments have all been tinged with nostalgia. This is something that I have this memory there this small business or some utility to with hospitals and whatnot. But mainly it’s just part of St. Pete’s character. Now, is it per acre highest and best use, do you get more throughputs and more, more character building or more general utility out of it, if it’s, if it’s a park, probably, just from straight numbers standpoint. But it sort of takes away a unique character to bring additional utility, but in the vein of a character that we kind of have already in the other parks. And then if you sort of juxtapose that to like a Driftwood, you know, obviously, that’s privately owned. So it’s a different story. But how do you differentiate between true highest and best use? And, you know, preserving character and uniqueness in a situation like Albert Whitted?

Peter Belmont 20:44
Well, I mean, first of all, I don’t think I, if you want to say that traditional perspective on highest and best use, that traditionally is thought of, I think in a development context. And so you would again, be saying highest and best use is that not…

Joe Hamilton 21:02
For you, for your personal highest and best use your opinion, you know, like park land versus airport, taking development off the table.

Peter Belmont 21:09
Right, I mean, I’m still have not changed, if you want to say my perspective over the decades, that offers a wonderful opportunity to expand the waterfront park system, and to provide additional land for university expansion, potentially for greater use of the port at St. Petersburg. So, in my mind, that would be the highest and best use as compared to the single use airport.

Joe Hamilton 21:42
Mainly, the purpose of the question was just to illustrate that the thinking process, your thinking process, or, you know, Preservations thinking process in general, it’s not always just straight, you know, keep what’s there. There’s, there’s other layers to it. That’s sort of my intention.

Peter Belmont 21:59
Yeah. And I know, and we experienced this during the referendum, and like I said, I think it was 2008 There’s a national organization AOPA. And, you know, you are certainly crossing a line with them if you talk about closing an airport. So, I know, they have very strong feelings, as well as some of the users clearly of the airport, I have seen the comments that have come in your Catalyst articles. And, yeah, it’s always interesting to see, but can we not at least undertake the discussion about what is best to do with that large piece of property?

Joe Hamilton 22:40
You know, one other area too, because reserve the room has been so successful. You know, you’re obviously that’s what people talk to you about, but you’ve had a, you know, a lot of good work in the environmental space as well. Can you talk a little bit about the work you’ve done in that arena?

Peter Belmont 22:56
Yes, I was fairly active with natural resource protection efforts. Early on in my law career. One of the issues that I was involved with was the phosphate mining industry. And again, what was happening and where it was that taking place. You know, the phosphate mining industry clearly involves the actual mining process. And then these huge what they refer to as slime ponds, where they put the slurry and to try and get the clays and other solids to settle out. And so there were always controversies over over those uses and where it was appropriate. So I was involved in a fair amount of litigation regarding the mining and efforts to protect wetlands. One of the other issues that I was involved with was actually the construction of the interstate through St. Pete. The original proposal for Maximo park at the south end of St. Pete was to build the traditional cloverleaf interchange, which essentially would have taken the entire park. Today we have what they call a tight diamond. So most of the park remained and you have the exit ramps that are immediately adjacent to the highway. The original proposal for the Skyway causeway was to fence it off like any other chunk of Interstate and have no recreational access. So again, we were successful in changing that. I used to represent the Sierra Sierra Club around the state of Florida. I was as involved in a variety of locations, representing the local Sierra Club group. I had a number of cases up in St. Johns County, which back then was just in my mind a beautiful county with a lot of rural lands left and you know, the spread of if you want to say the greater Jacksonville urban area was just beginning to be felt. And so there are a number of law are just developments that I was involved in litigation over to try and  direct or focus on their impacts and how to minimize it.

Joe Hamilton 25:10
As I’ve learned how to exactly phrase the question, right, but the law seems just kind of weird in a lot of ways. You know, when you talk about specifically you mentioned the Skyway and how, you know, somebody just said, we’re going to build something, fence this piece off, and because it ticks some box for liability, or whatever, and that kills what ended up being a really beautiful public facility, and you had to go and fight for that, and probably put a lot of effort into something. In your experience, how far is the law from from common sense reality, and some of the things you have to go through to get what in retrospect looks like pretty straightforward, easy decisions accomplished?

Peter Belmont 25:52
Well, one could only wish that those straightforward, easy solutions would be apparent to all involve both the public as well as the agency. And we know that’s not the case. As an example, that one of my favorite stories about the Skyway issue was one of the stronger federal laws is referred to as section 4 F, and essentially says that highways cannot be built through parks, wildlife refuges, unless there’s no feasible or prudent alternative. And steps are taken to minimize the impact if it must be used. So there was actually a sign on the Skyway causeway that said, Skyway Wildlife Refuge. And as those arguments and debates ensued about what should happen to the causeway, I noticed one day that the sign was no longer there. And we ended up just on a hunch going up to a D. O. T, maintenance yard in Largo, and there was the sign. And so, you know, we always read that as a response that D. O. T. was taking the position, it wasn’t really Wildlife Refuge. And it was hard to make that argument with a straight face and the sign declared it as such. So there goes the sign.

Joe Hamilton 27:13
And you also mentioned when the highways in 175, and 375, I guess you might as well hit the Trop, because that’s the next big the next big undertaking. So what are your thoughts on the Trop?

Peter Belmont 27:28
You know, it’d be nice if we would decide whether there’s going to be a baseball stadium there or not. But, you know, I think in many ways, again, the topics that have been at least broadly discussed are ones that should be, you know, the affordable housing issues, how do you try and reconnect that site back to the surrounding neighborhoods? How do you successfully provide for a mixed use development? And so I think a lot of that is going to be, you know, what are the rules or criteria are going to be in place for the future, again, to ensure that we get the result that we’re seeking. I can say, ironically, to the extent that there’s some discussion about whether the interstate leg should remain as is or whether it should potentially be removed, I can say the extent that in large part, I fought against that, before the interstate was constructed, and always wondered whether I would be alive or not to see it come back out. But we built 275 and the associated 175 and 375. In the downtown. I think before a lot of the concerns were successfully argued for how an interstate impacts in urban area. And so you know, there were a lot of issues for St. Pete ranging from, to some degree, the interstate appeared to be a barrier around South Side and largely African American St. Pete. And it on its face, there were more ways to get under the interstate, say with an overpass on the northern portions of the interstate. And then down on the south side. We were building at the time the interstate with no consideration of adjacent impacts with noise and things like that. Today, we see noise barriers all over the state that are commonly accepted. And we finally built some for 275. But I think that’s a big issue for the Trop development. How do we handle the the interstate extension and to the extent it remains there, it’s certainly a barrier. If we remove the that southern extension into downtown, do we not have enough capacity with the one on the north side so that we would still have ready access into downtown? And we could again, try to reclaim the neighborhood connect to the Trop site.

Joe Hamilton 30:01
With an organization like Preserve the Burg, what can it take from history and understanding snapshots, we’re..sort of by definition, what we, what we develop now will be historic and 100 years. So what’s the role of an organization like PtB, to, for better for worse, engineer or advocate for the best chance of something unique and special, and character building versus,  character for character flattening?

Peter Belmont 30:32
Well, I guess one of the things we need to understand as an organization, we’re, you know, we’re very small group. We have one full time Executive Director and a part time, second staff position. There’s always more things to do than you can really undertake. And so part of what any small organization needs to do is its own focus and prioritization of where you’re going to spend your resources. So in large part, Preserve the Burg has not been involved with the trop issue, in part because there seems to be a fair amount of interest within the community about what’s happening there. As well as like I said, we just have to prioritize what we can be involved with and how best to spend our time.

Joe Hamilton 31:27
Sure. I want to finish up with just a few thoughts on your accomplishments, you’re most proud of maybe the one or two that, that you wish would have gone a little bit differently. So when you when you look back over the you know, the fight you fought and the paths you walked, which jump out to you is the things you’re that were most impactful to you?

Peter Belmont 31:47
Well, one of the things that, you know, we lost, and I look back and just wonder, how do we let it happen was the Soreno hotel downtown. And so the city had, from my point of view, become desperate to try and become a more attractive place. And they teamed up with the Bay Plaza companies to redo eight blocks of downtown. And in many ways, it was a suburban mall that was largely low intensity buildings. I think the inference was that something like Saks Fifth Avenue department store would come into St. Pete, when I don’t think that was ever going to happen. But the Soreno would become the focal point for opposition to the Bay Plaza plan. And I think there was a purposeful decision to demolish the Soreno at the time in hopes of doing so would, in essence, remove a lot of the public opposition and concern about what the plan was. So that was a sad experience and loss. On the successful side is the 600 block of Central Avenue. It’s promoted both locally, regionally statewide, as as one of the great shopping blocks of anywhere. And there was actually a demolition permit that had been applied for to remove much the block, including the Crislip Arcade. And at the time, St. Pete preservation filed a landmark application. We went before City Council asked him for an emergency stay of the demolition permit, negotiations followed. And the result is what we see today, the block was not torn down. The developer was proposing to do that sold the property to another party. And it’s a great example of, of obviously, how you can reuse your historic commercial buildings and make an experience that all enjoy. And I’d say that then in the context of I hope we look at the rest of Central Avenue, we kind of in some ways, in my mind have this conflict between instituting the Sun Runner Rapid Transit bus, which, you know, I strongly support but there’s the proposal to increase densities along the Sun Runner corridor are and we need to be cognizant that if we’re going to allow for those greater densities, again, we need to make sure that the special qualities of the old historic storefronts of Central Avenue remain providing opportunities for local businesses etc. I’ll just mention two other things that I’m proud of. One was the waterfront park centennial celebrations that I made reference to in 2010. It both greatly helped to rejuvenate the St. Pete preservation, Preserve the Burg, and it was a very successful year of, of highlighting the waterfront parks and that’s where Movies In The Park came from we were going to do a one time movie in the park. As part of the celebration, it was so popular that we in essence have never stopped. I was a fairly, you want to say fresh out of law school, when the variety of proposals to redevelop the Vinoy property happened. And there was a kind of a string of developers that would get a lease from the Aberdeen Corporation, the owner of the property and they would be revoked and he would, they would contract with somebody else. There was something that was called the Edgewater motel that was city owned. And so on ultimately, there was a proposal to swap that property to allow the Vinoy redevelopment to move forward. The snag was that there was a question as to whether the city had clear title to the property. So the long and short of it was the city goes into local circuit court asking the judge to declare that have clear title. And as a young attorney, without a lot of experience, I have what was called for one of the local groups intervenes in the that litigation. And the outcome of that was actually a series of negotiations that led the city to adopting its present Historic Preservation ordinance. So clearly, I thought that was a very important step forward. Hopefully, the city would have done that at some point in time. But that was the impetus to get it done.

Joe Hamilton 36:32
Well, it’s absolutely not safe to assume that it would have been done without you. Because there’s many cities where that didn’t happen. And so I’m glad you didn’t take the chance. I really, I know time is precious in general, and no more so now that when you’re, you know, you’re battling something, so I hugely appreciate you taking this time to talk to me, you know, I think you can feel certain that you’re one of the heroes of the community, you know, akin to the generations before you that protected the waterfront and, and built great things. And then they did so with endless power and money, and you’ve done so you’re punching above your weight to a huge degree. And I think pound for pound, your legacy is right up at the top of anybody who’s come through St. Pete, and it’s greatly appreciated.

Peter Belmont 37:20
I appreciate those comments. It’s been very touching. You know, how I had friends and colleagues and even at times adversaries, say something like that to me. I used to say that, you know, I was maybe the typical guy and would be few and far between times when I would cry, but it’s been happening more and more as I hear things like that. So, you know, I enjoyed the chat and, you know, it’d be great dream if I could get back to St. Pete some day.

Joe Hamilton 37:57
You’re always here. Whether your body is or not.

Peter Belmont 38:02

Thanks, Joe.

Joe Hamilton 38:04

Take care. Peter Belmont


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1 Reviews on this article

S. Rose Smith-Hayes
02. 10 2022, 07:02:2424
The article is too long, however, Mr. Belmont had very interesting things to say. I am very sorry about his cancer and do not understand why he has it either. He is someone that I would love to meet and talk to. His ideas about Tropicana, the interstate and the effects on the Southside are very interesting and coincide with some of mine. I to hope that he gets to see the 'Burg' again very soon. Please give him my regards. He may have my email address if he desires it.