Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater council divided on whether park bathrooms should reopen

The public bathrooms at Crest Lake Park are welded shut to prevent drug use and prostitution. Some residents of Skycrest say they want the City Council to reopen the restrooms.


The public bathrooms at Crest Lake Park are welded shut to prevent drug use and prostitution. Some residents of Skycrest say they want the City Council to reopen the restrooms.

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 or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to

Clearwater council divided on whether park bathrooms should reopen 03/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 7:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Deadliest Catch' captain talks reality TV, Snoop Dogg and Tampa Bay


    Keith Colburn is best known as captain of the Wizard on the Discovery Network series Deadliest Catch. Colburn and crew go to battle in the Bering Sea working one of the deadliest jobs in America. A seasoned veteran, Keith has filmed 11 seasons of the show and is still going strong with his relief captain …

    Captain Keith Colburn is seen in this undated photo courtesy of the Discovery Channel. Courtesy of the Discovery Channel
  2. Police: Video shows teens watching, laughing as man drowns


    COCOA — Authorities in Florida say a group of teens watched and laughed as a man drowned in a retention pond last week.

    Jamel Dunn drowned in a retention pond in the city of Cocoa on July 9. Cocoa police say they later discovered a group of teens recorded the 31-year-old's drowning on video. [Florida Today]
  3. As Rubio avoids public settings on health care, disabled Tampa man's story gets attention


    Michael Phillips was hunting demons Monday night when the news broke: The Senate health care bill was dying.

    Michael Phillips at home in Tampa with his mother, Karen Clay
  4. Shark Week 2017: Michael Phelps races a shark and other must-see specials


    It's that time of year again. No, not back to school month or geek convention season -- it's Shark Week.

    For almost 30 years, Discovery Channel has brought a full week of special programs on the toothy underwater predators through Shark Week.
  5. HomeTeam 100: Players 51-60


    TAMPA - Wharton defensive back AJ Hampton will help lead the Wildcats into the 2017 season. Taken 7-6-17 by Scott Purks