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HOME | Starlight News: January 15, 2016 | Electronic CORBOD | Print & Mail CORBOD
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EDITOR - Marlene Reid -
January 17, 2016

Happy New Year!

As the year 2015 morphs into history and the strains of Auld Lang Syne fade from our consciousness we find ourselves facing the joys and challenges of the New Year - 2016!

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The words of Auld Lang Syne, translated from an old Scottish ballad, are about love and friendships in times past. It seems appropriate then that in this Newsletter, in addition to bringing you up to date on Board news, projects and challenges,  Louisa and I decided it would be fun to print some facts and pictures from the Starlight archives. But first we must thank Starlight archivists, Ed and Pat Ifft, for preserving the memories, and keeping the scrapbook!
  Our Christmas Lights
  Pictures below of Starlight all decked out in her Christmas lights. The little palm tree in the front, and the shrubbery, which will retain their lights for a few more months, form the focal point. Bill Fields worked diligently on this seasonal project to make us proud to call Starlight home, and the message from Caprice told us that they were proud to call us their neighbors.

  Projects Under Way
  This is an attempt to bring shareholders up to date on the activities and projects the Board is working on: During the Holiday Season it is difficult to get vendors to answer calls and to actually show up.
  1. Garage doors are being replaced as needed since the updated Code will no longer allow the replacement of panels only;
  2. Starlight’s warranty covered the recent patching and resurfacing of some bubbling on walkways;
  3. The inspection, and some repair, of the ‘01 stack by CPS has been completed; we are awaiting a full report on the condition of the “skin” of the building to determine if the schedule for the next painting and waterproofing needs to be fast-forwarded;
  4. A new Annunciator key-pad has been installed on the fire alarm panel in the lobby replacing the corroded one which emitted a low whistle that was not to be silenced for a 24-hour period;
  5. A former capable, conscientious, handyman who originally constructed and replaced some deteriorating trash-room doors for Starlight has come out of “temporary early retirement” and will be submitting an estimate for replacing the rest. He will also give us a bid on some plastering & painting of the Board Office, the walls of which are crying for tender loving care;
  6. It took almost an Act of Congress to get a plumber out to inspect the leak in the drain on the second floor. Since the bid was exorbitant other bids will be sought. Once fixed, the ceiling in the lobby, which has taken a beating, can be repaired;
  7. A new vent cover has been ordered, and delivered, to fix the rusting A/C unit by the South door;
  8. Leigh is getting bids on building a new wider concrete ramp outside the pool gate in order to avoid falls or sprains. Increasing the height of the sod on both sides didn’t eliminate the hazard;
  9. The Board recognizes that we have a problem of a lack of sand between the pavers on the pool deck (& growth of moss in its absence). Possibilities of dealing with this are being researched;
  10. Board members are always on call, and go into action, as they did this month, along with the staff, when a ground-floor unit was flooded because the water had not been turned off;
  11. In the next 2 months the Board will be discussing policies and price structure concerning Guest Unit #106, possibly raising nightly rental fees and a cleaning charge, as well as looking at time frame involving reservations; DeDe Wales very graciously cleaned & lined the kitchen drawers;
  12. Straightening of the leaning stone column at Starlight’s entry gate continues to be on the Board’s “bucket list” agenda (at least on our radar). A Structural Repair Specialist will be assessing our “leaning Pisa” problem this coming week, so pray that a solution is doable;
  13. We understand that a Committee of Masculine Board members and Volunteers plans to undertake the design and rebuilding of the dumpster enclosure in the very near future;
  The Social Evenings are back!
  This coming Monday, January 18th, will be the inaugural Social Evening of 2016, at 7pm at the lobby. Starlighters, guests and friends have come to enjoy these weekly gatherings munching on a variety of snacks, goodies, coffee and beverages generously provided by volunteers. In a friendly environment and a relaxing atmosphere you can catch up on the latest news with your neighbors and play Card Games and Dominoes. Bingo lovers will get an opportunity soon when our "caller" President Bill Isaacs returns home.
  The "Sunshine Fund"
  As all Starlighters are aware, from time to time, a card appears on the mail counter asking Starlighters to sign and send a message. The card may be one of congratulation or cheer, a card of sympathy, a get-well encouragement card, or one simply expressing that we Starlighters care about our neighbors.
This mission is carried out by volunteers who need your financial support to make it run smoothly.
Please use the envelopes provided on the mailroom counter and Please, be generous!
  "Sunset Celebration" on Upham Beach!
  The St. Pete Beach "Sunset Celebration" has been moved to Upham Beach from Sunset Park along with the Sunset Bell which is now located at the deck of Seaside Grill. All who wish can ring the bell after sunset. Also on Upham Beach, the Second Saturday of each month,  vendors will grace the side walk. There will be music on the deck, and Seaside Grill will be open all through the sunset after which there will be a Beach Bonfire.
  The Annual Meeting and Election...
  The Annual Meeting and Election scheduled for February 9th this year attracted 7 candidates who will compete for 4 open positions. They are:
  • Mike Brennan (incumbent)
  • Ric Garland (incumbent)
  • William Pierce
  • Noah Shatken
  • Louisa Simos (incumbent)
  • Joseph Urzendowski
  • DeDe Wells (incumbent)
Brief Walk Down Memory Lane of St. Pete Beach's Building Evolution...
  Which came first: The chicken or the egg?
1925-28 In the Beginning, there was only one single solitary huge pink and beautiful structure at the South End of St. Pete Beach, developed by Thomas Rowe, a luxurious hotel that opened in 1928. Rowe named it Don Ce-Sar after Don César de Bazan, the hero of William Vincent Wallace's opera Maritana.
Today is a Loews hotel and the name is what else? Don CeSar
  And like all fairy tales ours  starts with... "Once upon a time"...
  The North End of St. Pete Beach was totally bare with nothing but sand!
There was No Starlight Tower!
There was No Envoy Point!
There was No Caprice!
1958 And then in 1958, here it is: The One and Only Starlight Tower!
  Excerpt from period magazine advertisement: STARLIGHT TOWER, CO-OP APARTMENTS - 7000 Beach Plaza, St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. An impressive multi-million dollar, 10 story building of 70 private homes of various sizes. Luxury living at its best. Every apartment overlooks the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. 250 feet of private beach, fresh water pool, shuffleboard courts, green lawn and trees. Apartments individually climatized. General Electric equipped. Automatic washers and dryers on each floor. Ample parking, private garages and carports. Banks, shopping areas and excellent restaurants nearby. Starlight Tower, a navigational landmark, can be seen for miles standing majestically in its white sturdiness against blue skies and whose owners relax in a continual vacation atmosphere.  
  Another Excerpt from period undated newspaper article: FAMILY ACTIVE TOO. Active with Ruff in his enterprises is his daughter, Mrs. Mary Ellen Brush, who operates about 1,000 apartment units. Also helping him in his present operations is Mrs. Ruff, of whom he says: "I could not have built Starlight Tower without her. She has been at my side at every meeting". Mrs. Ruff is the former Margaret C. George, of Baltimore, whose mother was John Ruff's first school teacher. Up North, the Ruff's live at Randallstown, a Baltimore suburb where Ruff has sponsored many projects which have made the community a better place to live. He was president of the Randallstown Bank for 20 years, dating back to the time it was organized in 1934. Since it has become a branch of the Maryland Trust Co., he is on the boards of both the branch and the parent institution. Ruff is both a 32nd degree...(unfortunately the article is cut here).  
  Starlight's first pool was kidney-shaped. Note, all balconies are still open!
  Postscript: Editor's note - Starlight Tower "The Fort".
Starlight Tower isn’t going anywhere! An occasional crack like the one in the men’s restroom will surface. Looking for the source takes one to the opposite side of the wall, in the pump room, where it can be observed that some of the old surface mortar between the cement blocks has dried up and fallen out. The base of that wall is in need of repair because flood waters over the years have taken their toll, but Bill Fields tells us that, from the crawl space area he has examined the foundation of the building with a flashlight, and has found no signs of settling. However, for assurance, there can be no harm in having The Certified Structure and Foundation, Inc. specialists assess that wall when they come to look at the leaning entry column.
  Excerpt from 1959 newspaper article: During the latter part of 1959, the Developer John K. Ruff installed a concrete slab seawall extending from the South side of Blind Pass to the Starlight Tower seawall.
  The above photograph taken in February 1961, looking North, which shows the height of the beach as being to the ground level top of the seawall on the South side of Starlight Tower, adjoining the Gulf Winds Apartment beach and extending both West and South along the City beach. 
  Taken in April 1962, these pictures show the erosion conditions at the Starlight front seawall. We were then advised by our engineers that unless we immediately placed adequate rock (rip-rap) at the base of our seawall, we would lose it, so at that time we had Misener Marine Construction, Inc., put 325 tones of rock.. Then in July of the same year, we added 125 tons more as emergency protection against the pounding of the sea.
   Note the big concrete steps going down to the Gulf.
  Postscript: Editor's note- Beach Erosion
  As confirmed in these pictures documenting the installation of rip-rap in 1962, beach erosion at Starlight Tower has been an ongoing problem since the very beginning. In the archives is a letter that the President of Starlight, Augustus Bowles, wrote to our Congressman in 1969 asking for help in finding a permanent solution.
As many of you know, succeeding board members, residents, and presidents, especially Hugh McGuigan, picked up that torch and constantly reminded the “powers that be” –federal, state and local – that help was needed against the fury of the Gulf to procure the safety and wellbeing of Starlight’s residents. Yours truly did her bit, even leading a delegation to Tallahassee to lobby the Governor and an EPA representative about the seriousness of the situation. Kevin Hing picked up the ball and ran with it! When the government representatives got tired of hearing from Starlighters, and decided that we were not going to “go away,” temporary groins (jetties) were finally installed with the promise that if they “did the job” they would be replaced with permanent boulder jetties.

Hurrah! The temporary groins were successful with the result that we are now awaiting the arrival of the crew, the machinery, the renourishment sand, and the boulders. This project is due to start early in 2016! Pray that no unforeseen circumstances hold up this final phase of permanent help for our beach.

In future Newsletters perhaps we will print pictures documenting this long ordeal including, temporary renourishments, and storms and hurricanes that wiped out tons of sand and left Starlight devastated! This would make us appreciate how far we have come in securing safety for Starlight residents, and mitigating damage to the lobby and all of Starlight property.
1963  Gulf Winds' Olympic size pool: The "Island Club Pool"
  Then to the South of us in 1963, Gulf Winds built an Olympic size pool with bath house facilities called the Island Club. In that location now is Caprice!
  The Island Club Pool had four diving boards for every skill level divers, amateurs to highly accomplished ones like the very talented youth in the middle of a rotation in progress. Observe the amazing height and distance of his dive from the platform!
  LEFT: We had a diving board! Above and below, Starlight residents watching the dedication of the Island Club Pool having the "best seat in the house" with their close proximity to the high diving tower!
1964 The Aquatarium ... one of Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions
  In 1964, Marine Attractions, Inc. built the Aquatarium on 17 acres on St. Petersburg Beach, between 64th and 66th avenues. It was built somewhat on the plan of the Miami Seaquarium, with a signature 160-foot-tall golden geodesic dome and the usual trained porpoises, sea lions and even pilot whales.
In 1968 Frank Cannova, bought the Aquatarium for $2 million, just in time to watch tourism in the area decline as Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971 and the gasoline shortages of the 1970's hit. After city zoning officials refused to approve the construction of a waterslide at the park, it closed and was eventually torn down to make way for the Silver Sands.
2016 I hope you have enjoyed this virtual trip down memory lane and maybe you learned a couple things about our property and adjoining properties that you didn't know. No, the Olympic size pool next door and the Aquatarium to the South were not fictional, but really existed! 

Isn't it fun to know a little more history about Starlight and surrounding area? Is there any wonder   Starlighters feel so passionately and protective about their home on the Gulf?
Molon Lave Semper Fidelis
  Starlight Tower St Pete Beach Florida picture from Gulf BoulevardStarlight Tower St Pete Beach Florida picture from the Gulf of MexicoView from the South fence of Starlight Tower at St Pete Beach Pinelas County FloridaStarlight Tower's swimming poolRainbow at Starlight Tower St Pete Beach, Florida on Blind Pass sideStarlight Tower St Pete Beach Florida  
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