The Warehouse Arts District in St. Petersburg is a vibrant, growing community and one resident says lighting in the area along the Pinellas Trail is a crucial part of it.
“For me, it is a very serious thing to have safety here and it is scary,” Gina Foti said. Foti lives alone in her art studio that once was an industrial warehouse.
“Being a woman in the warehouse arts district I cannot stress how important that is and that would bring down break-ins,” Foti said.
In April, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced they would be doing improvements along the section of the Pinellas Trail that runs through the art district. But, months later the lights haven’t been installed.
“I know it takes time, but we need them sooner rather than later,” Foti said. “The trail is a real big connector for us throughout the community.”
Foti calls her art studio the “girl cave” a place where women can meet and talk about art, photography, and feel safe. Foti recently launched a website to allow women to connect from all over the Bay Area and her studio is where they meet.
“I worry about that. I do. I worry about that to be honest with you,” Foti said. “Girls meet here quite often. People are coming here all the time with us doing a lot of events and workshops for the women's organization.”
There is also a push to create an art exhibit along the trail to bring people to the area. The vision for artists in the community is a place where people can ride their bikes here have some food and drinks, enjoy artwork and feel safe.
“It’s to kind of let people know what's here,” Foti said. “And, I think that's what the lighting does. It says, it is a welcoming place a safe place and people will gravitate towards it naturally.”