Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Clearwater council divided on whether park bathrooms should reopen

CLEARWATER — Last summer, the city closed the public restrooms at Crest Lake Park after hearing reports that people were using them at night for sleeping, partying, drug use and prostitution.

The six bathrooms, located next to a playground, remain welded shut to this day.

Neighbors in the area surrounding the park have been asking that the restrooms be reopened. However, city leaders are reluctant to do that. In fact, they're thinking about eliminating the bathrooms entirely — partly because they are unattractive, and partly so that people will stop asking for them to be reopened.

"We have to decide whether to demolish the restrooms or open them," said Mayor George Cretekos. "As long as they're there, it's going to be a subject that is going to be brought up time after time after time."

The mayor and the rest of Clearwater's City Council debated the issue at a work session Monday. They appear to be leaning toward knocking down the restrooms, but they're not going to make that decision at their public meeting tonight. Instead, they'll consider it at their April 4 meeting.

The park is east of downtown between Cleveland Street and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. Its bathrooms used to automatically lock every night, but officials found that homeless people were jamming the doors' automatic locks with toilet paper, allowing the facilities to be used at night.

Residents of Skycrest, the neighborhood that includes the park, want the decision reversed. They say families are staying away from the park and vagrants are relieving themselves in the bushes. A larger group, the Clearwater Neighborhood Coalition, is making the same request.

So why not reopen the restrooms?

City officials say budget cuts have forced Clearwater to close public restrooms in parks all over the city, because it's costly to clean and maintain them. They're also worried that the Crest Lake bathrooms will simply return to their former status as a crime magnet.

Clearwater community development manager Ekaterini Gerakios described visiting the restrooms when they were open and finding needles on the floor and feces smeared on the wall.

"It's not a place where I would ever let my 4-year-old go," she said.

The City Council isn't unanimous in its views.

Cretekos wants a major redesign to turn Crest Lake Park into a signature park for the city. He'd like it to be more like Largo's popular Central Park. Perhaps it could have new restrooms then, he said.

However, money for that redesign might not be available for years.

Council member Jay Polglaze didn't want to wait that long and pushed for the restrooms to be reopened now.

Council member Bill Jonson doesn't like the current sinister look of the public restrooms, whose doors are welded shut.

"It looks like something bad happened there," he said. "It bothers me a lot."

Vice Mayor Paul Gibson wants to knock the restrooms down. "I have a real hard time repeating the same mistake when we know what will happen," he said.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Tampa Bay Times’ all-North Suncoast girls basketball team

Tampa Bay Times’ all-North Suncoast girls basketball team

North Suncoast Player of the Year: India Lewis, Sr., FivayFirst teamG Jayde Doucette, Sr., River RidgeG Reagan Huden, Sr., SpringsteadF Andrea Wallace, Sr., SunlakeG/F Ices Utegg, So., River RidgeF/C Seytia Hill, Jr., Weeki WacheeSecond teamG Lyndsey...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Brandon man held on $750,000 bail, accused of 100 counts of child pornography

Brandon man held on $750,000 bail, accused of 100 counts of child pornography

A Brandon man has been charged with 100 counts of possession of child pornography after deputies discovered more than 100 images of child pornography on his computer, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Troi Amacher, 29, was arreste...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Rick Stroud talks about when we will know about a possible Jameis Winston suspension and why DeSean Jackson hasn't been more productive with the Bucs on today's podcast.Plus, who might the Rays trade next? Will the Lightning make any b...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

ORLANDO — Florida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement Thursda...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Days after buying Time Warner, AT&T launches new TV service

Days after buying Time Warner, AT&T launches new TV service

NEW YORK — AT&T is launching a new streaming service incorporating television networks from the Time Warner company it just bought. The WatchTV service, a cable-like package of more than 30 TV channels delivered over the internet, is an example of th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco deputies searching for missing Holiday autistic teen

Pasco deputies searching for missing Holiday autistic teen

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a missing autistic boy who walked out of his Holiday residence Wednesday night.Jordan Webb, 16, left his home at 2522 Wood Pointe in Holiday around 11 p.m. He was last seen wearing a black Carolina P...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

WOODSIDE, Calif. (AP) — Koko, the gorilla who mastered sign language, has died.The Gorilla Foundation says the 46-year-old western lowland gorilla died in its sleep at the foundation’s preserve in California’s Sana Cruz mountains on Tuesday.Koko was ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: CareerSource used credit cards to boost hiring totals; report says Winston suspension coming; Hedman wins Norris Trophy; get ready for Pride

The Daystarter: CareerSource used credit cards to boost hiring totals; report says Winston suspension coming; Hedman wins Norris Trophy; get ready for Pride

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Today is also the official start of summer, not that anyone will be able to tell. It will be hot and muggy with just a 30 percent chance of rain heading into Friday, according to 10We...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Romano: Intrigue behind all those manicured lawns

Romano: Intrigue behind all those manicured lawns

I’ve always thought homeowners associations had a lot in common with cops.People love to complain about them and often accuse them of abusing their power. And yet as soon as a neighbor paints his house a hot shade of fuchsia, you’re screaming for the...
Published: 06/21/18