Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Clearwater neighborhood longs for park toilets, closed to discourage 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 [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

* It's always interesting to think of how many amazing plays you see made in a game, then often a simple one — such as the fourth-inning comebacker to Rays RHP Matt Andriese — gets messed up and costs teams heavily, as that led to two run...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine Sunday for the Rays.It was the less-effective pitchers who followed, plus the ineffectiveness of their h...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Expansion Vegas advances to Stanley Cup final

Expansion Vegas advances to Stanley Cup final

WINNIPEG — The Vegas Golden Knights are going to the Stanley Cup final — with a chip on their shoulder."Everybody on this team has something to prove," forward Ryan Reaves said. "We call ourselves 'The Golden Misfits' for a reason. We're ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The nearly Yanny-vs.-Laurel level national debate over their latest pitching strategy innovation of starting relievers isn't quite as entertaining today. The In-N-Out burgers in the clubhouse after the game weren't as tasty. T...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Chief US hurricane forecaster: Education key to storm prep

Chief US hurricane forecaster: Education key to storm prep

WEST PALM BEACH — The new U.S. National Hurricane Center director says learning about specific storm hazards is key to preparing for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. Ken Graham leads the U.S. government’s hurricane forecasting hub in Miami. At...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Unveiling for

Unveiling for "Fortune Taylor Bridge" marker rained out, but celebration continues indoors

TAMPA — There’s a saying that everyone dies twice, Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco said Sunday: Once when they take their last breath. And again the last time someone mentions their name.So in this case, he said, the name "Fortune Taylor" ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

TALLAHASSEEFlorida districts fight charter school lawEleven school districts in Florida are refusing to give up their legal battle over an education law that steered more money to charter schools. A Leon County circuit judge in April threw out the la...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Venezuela elections draw protests

Venezuela elections draw protests

Photos by Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesMarcos Carbono, center, joins with others in front of the Consulate General of Venezuela in Miami to protest the Venezuelan elections taking place on Sunday. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro seems to be set to win ...
Updated: 8 hours ago