Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater neighborhood longs for park toilets, closed to discourage homeless

Clearwater welded shut restrooms next to a playground at Crest Lake Park during the summer to discourage the homeless.

Times

Clearwater welded shut restrooms next to a playground at Crest Lake Park during the summer to discourage the homeless.

CLEARWATER — This summer, the city closed the public restrooms at Crest Lake Park after hearing reports that homeless people were using them at night for drug use, sleeping and prostitution. The six restrooms, located next to a playground, remain welded shut.

Now the neighborhood surrounding the park is asking that the restrooms be reopened. Neighbors say closing the restrooms didn't help. Instead, they say, families are staying away from the park and vagrants are relieving themselves in the bushes.

The City Council will take up the issue at a future meeting.

The restrooms were closed in June at the park, which is east of downtown between Cleveland Street and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. The restrooms used to automatically lock every night at 8:30 p.m. However, the city's homelessness consultant, Robert Marbut, recommended removing or redesigning the restrooms because he found that homeless people were jamming the doors' automatic locks with toilet paper, allowing the facilities to be used at night.

But residents of Skycrest, the neighborhood that includes the park, want the decision to be reversed. In a unanimous vote, members of the Skycrest Neighbors recently decided to send a letter to City Hall.

"Our neighborhood, again unanimously, agreed that we are not seeing the numbers of families, especially families with children, who have enjoyed our park in the past," the letter states. "Many of the walkers, joggers and even dog walkers have remarked about the growing number of unsavory people monopolizing the park, especially the picnic tables, more than ever before."

"The park is dying. We don't see the families there that used to be there," said the Skycrest group's president, JoAnna Siskin, who added that the group's active Neighborhood Watch is willing to help clean and monitor the bathrooms.

"Families can't use the restrooms," said another Skycrest board member, Elizabeth Cruickshank. "These other guys show up, and they don't know the restrooms are locked. When you gotta go, you gotta go. So there's a lot of that going on."

City Manager Bill Horne, who received the letter, said he'll speak individually to each City Council member about the issue, and they'll discuss it at an upcoming public meeting.

"I really don't think we should have bathrooms there," Horne said. He said the city had planned to keep the restrooms closed for at least a year to "break the attractiveness of this location to the chronic homeless who were using the bathrooms and creating issues."

Mayor George Cretekos said in an interview Wednesday that budget cuts have forced Clearwater to close public restrooms in parks all over the city. "Personally, I would like the city to have a bathroom in every park, but it's not economically feasible," he said.

Cretekos would like to see a major redesign of Crest Lake Park. He'd like it to be more like Largo's popular Central Park.

"Largo Central Park — when I drive by it, you know you're in a park. It's inviting," Cretekos said. "There's no reason we can't do the same with Crest Lake Park."

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

Clearwater neighborhood longs for park toilets, closed to discourage homeless 11/28/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  2. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings
  3. St. Petersburg council sets millage rate in first budget hearing

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council set the millage rate and gave initial approval to Mayor Rick Kriseman's $538 million budget at Thursday night's hearing.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman talks about the state of the city on Tuesday, two days after Hiurricane Irma passed through the state. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. How many more people would lack coverage under Cassidy-Graham? We can guess

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — It's safe to say the new Obamacare rollback measure toward which the Senate is charging would mean fewer Americans have health coverage. Exactly how many is unclear. Some argue it could be more than 22 million people. Others say it could be fewer.

  5. Woman's decomposed body found near St. Petersburg railroad tracks

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A woman's body was found near the railway tracks behind an empty building at 3100 38th Ave. N, according to St. Petersburg police.