Spring break is coming up and Clearwater Beach is offering something that will make visiting the beach less of a hassle.
The beach opened Pelican Walk Parking Garage on Poinsettia Avenue at the end of January. The goal was to help with parking problems that occur on the beach.
Jason Beisel, the Public Communications Coordinator of Clearwater expects the garage to improve the flow of traffic.
“Especially this time of year with spring break… we have an influx of visitors,” said Beisel. “But what we built it for is so people have a place to park.”
The location used to be a single level parking lot, but the new garage offers 702 spaces. It also helps beach employees who had trouble finding parking for a reasonable price. Parking in the garage costs $2 an hour or $20 a day.
“Some lots around here, you can pay up to $50 a day to park,” Beisel said. “So, we have contracted with some businesses where they pay a flat fee and they’re able to park here and it helps alleviate some of the parking problems for employees.”
The garage cost over $11 million to build. Most of the money came from parking fees collected on the beach and tourism dollars. A smaller portion came from taxpayer dollars.
“It just helps the whole beach and the economy to bring people out here so they can enjoy themselves and spend money at all the different shops,” Clearwater resident Tim Lavelle said. “It’s just good for everybody.”
A student in Lakeland has a unique way of spending his free time.
Dorian Alberti, an engineering student at Florida Polytechnic University, has a hobby of creating his own versions of the Iron Man suit. He has made 14 suits, and he is currently making suits 15 and 16.
“Well, since I was really young, and the first Iron Man movie came out in 2008, I actually started to think that I wanted an Iron Man suit,” Dorian said. “As I started to build them, my expertise wasn’t that great. As I grew up, it got more intricate and better looking.”
Dorian built his first suit when he was only in the fifth grade. He constructs the suits by himself in a shed behind his house in Madison.
“He went from using duct tape and cardboard, and from that, the suits are going to progress a lot more,” said Carlos Rodriquez, another student at Polytechnic University.
Dorian has high expectations for his future suits. He wants to include bullet resistance material, strength that exceeds human strength and the ability to fly. Dorian wants to work for a military contractor to build these suits.
“I feel like I could help a lot of other people with what I do,” said Dorian. “The more progress I make, the closer the gap gets of me being able to do that. I hope it can protect us as Americans, if I get to that point.”
Safety Buttons Installed On Campus As Security Precaution
Over winter break, University of South Florida took action in hopes of making its Tampa campus safer by installing red emergency buttons across campus in 11 populated rooms such as lecture halls.
The campus facilities team, along with the information technology team and emergency management, designed the buttons to work specifically for the campus and its access control systems.
“They work with our building control access system,” Assistant Director of Communications Aaron Nichols said. “It’s the same system that on a schedule will lock and unlock the doors in buildings at night and then they unlock in the morning. When you hit a button, it activates that system and it locks the perimeter access doors for an area.”
Campus shootings have become fairly common over the last couple of years. According to the Washington Times, 142 school shootings occurred nationwide since the Sandy Hook shooting in October 2015.
“I feel like it makes sense,” USF student Qua’on Thomas said. “It’s kind of good to be proactive versus reactive. So I could see why they would do it.”
Once one of these buttons is pushed, only campus police or a facilities manager can unlock the doors. Pushing the button doesn’t automatically alert police, so students still have to dial 911 after pushing the button.
“I think that it’s important that people feel safe,” Thomas said. “It’s not about having it to actually prevent something, but just having people know that they are thinking about their safety.”