OLDSMAR — It won't be long before new homes begin sprouting on several acres of vacant land near Oldsmar's fire station. Some will be tiny, what the developer calls "micro cottages,'' while others will be big enough for families. Most will be clustered around a village green. All will be moderately priced and energy efficient.
It has been more than five years since the City Council began talking about creating a development with 52 homes just south of Hayes Road and east of Pine Avenue, near Richard Rogers Park and Forest Lakes Elementary School.
Until now, it has been nicknamed Hayes Park Cottages. But with the groundbreaking in sight, the city has officially named it Hayes Park Village.
A few months ago, Mayor Doug Bevis encouraged John Bews of Davis Bews Design Group, the firm selected to develop the project, to come up with names for marketing Oldsmar's newest neighborhood. Bews presented his top three choices — Hayes Park, Hayes Park Cottages and Hayes Park Village — at last week's council meeting.
Bews explained that as he gathered feedback from the community, he heard one question over and over about the nickname.
"I got asked the question 'Why are you changing it?' quite a lot. So with that in mind, we kept Hayes in the title.''
For about 10 minutes, the council discussed the pros and cons of each name.
Vice Mayor Janice Miller thought Hayes Park Village was a fine name, but it wasn't her first choice. "The word 'cottage' sounds homey and inviting,'' she said. "My choice is Hayes Park Cottages.''
Gabby McGee said she loved all three of the names, but she pointed out that Hayes Park Village conjures up thoughts of Hyde Park Village in Tampa, a retail district. "I like all three, but Hyde Park Village in Tampa is more of a retail area. That's where people shop, and when people there say where they live, they just say Hyde Park,'' McGee said.
In the end, with no objections, Bevis encouraged Bews to go with Hayes Park Village.
"The word 'village' appears rich — not richer in dollar amount but richer as in a nicer thing,'' Bevis said. "Also, when you think of some of the Northerners and their communities, often they are called villages. So yes, I like Hayes Park Village.''
Fire Chief Dean O'Nale was pleased that Hayes will be part of the permanent name. The road, an extension of Bayview Boulevard built in 2001, was named in honor of a friend, retired volunteer fire Chief Lorenzo Hayes, who served the city for more than three decades.
"Lorenzo Hayes was the first African-American fire chief in Florida and is well deserving of having his name on both Hayes Road and Hayes Park Village,'' he said. "He has always been a huge contributor to Oldsmar.''
And what does Hayes, who now lives in Central Florida, think of the name Hayes Park Village?
"I think the same about the neighborhood as I did when they named the street after me. It's an honor, it really is, to know (the city) thought that much of me to do that,'' said Hayes, 76.
Hayes says he is interested to see how the development progresses. He hopes Oldsmar will continue encouraging diversity, and says projects like this one show that "the city is on the right track. Actually, my daughter still lives there. It is the ideal place to live, really.''
Piper Castillo can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4163.