Make us your home page

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.


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

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

  1. Pitching on no rest backfires for Erasmo Ramirez, Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — After battling through a 61/2-hour affair Sunday in Minnesota that was the second-longest game in franchise history, Rays officials were quick to decide that even though Erasmo Ramirez had just worked the 15th and final inning, they would stick with him to start Monday's game in Texas.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers, comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  3. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  4. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  5. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)