CLEARWATER — What's in a name?
Well, a new name is a big deal when you're trying to rebrand something and market it to a wider audience — like, for instance, the downtown Clearwater boat slips.
The much-maligned boat slips, which opened in September, are a target for critics who call them a waste of taxpayer money. Only a third of the 126 slips are rented, but city leaders are confident that the project will be a success over time.
But they're not wowed by the name "downtown Clearwater boat slips." Too generic, too blah.
Time for a new name.
First, members of the city's marine advisory board got together and brainstormed. One of their suggestions: Avoid the word "yacht," which they saw as too exclusive, too uppity. Also, avoid "Cleveland Street."
"The average boater doesn't know where Cleveland Street is," said city harbormaster Bill Morris.
Their suggested names included Clearwater Docks on the Bay, Clearwater Harbor Boat Basin and Clearwater Downtown Memorial Docks.
The thing is, the City Council wasn't too inspired by any of those. So they took a crack at it Thursday night.
Up first was George Cretekos, who grandly suggested "the Moorings at Clearwater Harbor."
"It has a little more pizzazz," he said. But he struck out; none of the others were for it.
What about including the word Coachman, as in Coachman Park? The problem, as Bill Jonson noted, is that most boaters don't know where that is either.
Vice Mayor John Doran said the new name should be targeted at people who boat and who search for docking sites on the Internet: "That's where most of our traffic is going to come from."
Google searches would be key. Clearwater should be the first word in the name, he said, and the second word should be "harbor."
"I don't think people who are boating by and large know or care about downtown," Doran said. "They do know about harbors because they're on maps."
Okay. So what should the third word be? Marina, docks, moorings, landings, yacht basin?
Paul Gibson suggested Clearwater Harbor Marina.
"I hate for names to be completely boring," said Mayor Frank Hibbard. He added: "I don't think most people know where Clearwater Harbor is."
It was time for a technical clarification: Could they even call it a marina? There are docks there but no fueling station. However, boat fuel is available nearby at the Clearwater Municipal Marina. They figured it would probably be okay to call the place a marina.
Gibson argued on behalf of using "marina," saying it's a common word with a specific meaning.
"That we never used throughout the entire referendum, by the way," Hibbard retorted. Clearwater voters narrowly approved the $12.8 million boat slips in a contentious 2007 referendum. The city never called it a "marina" back then.
Another option was floated: Clearwater Downtown Marina. But Hibbard thought that was even more boring.
In the end, the vote was unanimous. The boat slips have a new name.
So there you have it: Clearwater Harbor Marina.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4160.