CLEARWATER — Along with the tourists drawn by revitalization efforts to Clearwater Beach and downtown, city officials are also anticipating an influx of panhandlers and beggars.
Now they're taking steps to prevent that.
The city attorney's office is working on a panhandling ordinance that targets tourist areas, including the beach and the downtown core. The new ordinance will augment a 1997 code that outlaws "aggressive" begging, panhandling that causes someone to "fear for their person or property citywide."
This code, also called "begging by intimidation," carries an $88 fine.
The new law will target anyone who verbally seeks money on public property. It will also affect charitable and religious donations.
However, it will not affect "passive" solicitation, such as someone holding up a sign — as long as they don't approach anyone — or playing a guitar and leaving a hat for people to drop money in. It also won't affect direct mail or a Salvation Army bell ringer.
Mike Donila, Times staff writer
Police investigating death of man on trail
Tarpon Springs police are investigating the suspicious death of a Pasco County man who was found severely injured on the Pinellas Trail in mid February.
On Feb. 19, paramedics responded to a call about a man lying unconscious on the trail near a bridge at U.S. 19.
The man, Arthur R. Meyers, 57, of Holiday was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. His sister, Pamela Garvin of Libertyville, Ill., said Meyers had "massive injuries," including several broken bones and at least one collapsed lung.
Family members decided to take Meyers off life support March 3, said another sister, Deborah King-Catalano, 45, of Holiday.
He died at the hospital the following morning.
Police did not initially file a report because it appeared Meyers had suffered from a medical condition, said Lt. Barb Templeton. Police were previously unaware of Meyers' injuries, Templeton said.
Rita Farlow, Times staff writer
Road widening should ease traffic at track
At Tampa Bay Downs, racehorses thunder around the oval track each December through May.
That's hardly the case, though, with the horseless carriages outside the facility.
As race fans pour into the parking lot, park their cars and then try to cross the two lanes of Race Track Road, traffic can slow to a crawl, back up in both directions and clog nearby intersections.
But relief is on the way.
Hillsborough County is planning to widen a portion of Race Track Road to six lanes and realign the new highway around the west side of the horse track.
That's welcome news, Oldsmar Mayor Jim Ronecker said recently after hearing plans for the project.
"The improvements are going to help," he said. "They're just not going to happen soon enough."
It will likely be 2010 before all the construction work is finished.
Terri Bryce Reeves, Times correspondent