Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Despite pleas, Crest Lake Park restrooms will be torn down

CLEARWATER — The City Council had a fiery and passionate debate about public restrooms Thursday night.

Despite an outpouring of arguments, stern words, frustration, negotiating and outright pleading from residents of the nearby Skycrest neighborhood, the council narrowly approved demolishing the restrooms at 38-acre Crest Lake Park.

Several of the dozen people advocating for the restrooms were elderly residents who have lived in Clearwater for decades. Skycrest neighborhood activists said they were assured that the restrooms' closure last summer would be temporary. And a number of speakers said they see visitors relieving themselves in the park anyway, restrooms or no restrooms.

"We are only asking you to give us back what you have taken away from us," said Shannon O'Leary-Beck, a Skycrest resident who showed the council a photo of toilet paper and feces left under an oak tree not far from the park's playground. "We have been so diligently trying to explain to you how important our park is to us. If you choose to turn your backs on us, turn a deaf ear on us, we won't forget it at election time."

Council members voted 3-2 to demolish the small building containing the restrooms. The restrooms are next to the playground in the park, which borders Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard east of downtown.

Mayor George Cretekos, Vice Mayor Paul Gibson and council member Doreen Hock-DiPolito approved the demolition. Council members Bill Jonson and Jay Polglaze wanted the restrooms reopened, at least during events at the park.

The officials who wanted to demolish the restrooms said neighborhood residents had previously complained when they were open and were attracting suspicious characters. The city closed the restrooms last June after hearing reports that homeless people and others were jamming the automatic locks and using the facilities at night for sleeping, drug use and prostitution.

"Those restrooms as they are currently configured, where they are currently located, have not done the community any good," the mayor told the crowd at City Hall. "You complained when they were open and causing you problems. You complain now because they're closed and they're causing you problems."

Gibson questioned police Chief Tony Holloway, who said he expected the problems to return if the restrooms were reopened.

At the same time, council members also said they want to have Crest Lake Park redesigned and improved in the years to come. There's $1.5 million in future Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenue earmarked for reworking the park. The money is scheduled to become available in 2017 and 2018.

"We want to demolish the restrooms — not to take them away from you, but to put new ones up," Hock-DiPolito told the crowd.

But Skycrest residents don't want to wait four or five years.

"I'd love to go to the park again. I don't go because there is no bathroom," said Roberta Findlay, who walked to Crest Lake from her home for two decades. "It needs a washroom. It's not a teeny little 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

Students hurt after Highlands County crash involving school bus, semi-truck

Several children were injured Wednesday morning in Highlands County when their school bus was struck by a semi-truck.The crash occurred just before 8 a.m. on U.S. 27 and Lake Placid Drive, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Two students were air...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Three things to watch for at the Federal Reserve meeting today

Three things to watch for at the Federal Reserve meeting today

WASHINGTON — On the day when Janet Yellen will hold her final news conference as Federal Reserve chair, the Fed has left little doubt what it plans to do Wednesday: Raise its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year. The increase would be...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For Weeki Wachee River, Hernando commission agrees to study how much use is too much?

For Weeki Wachee River, Hernando commission agrees to study how much use is too much?

BROOKSVILLE — For a year and a half, residents along the Weeki Wachee River have loudly voiced their concerns about the waterway’s future, begging local and state officials to do something to protect the important resource and to curb gro...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his point streak...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Should the Rays go full fire-sale mode?

Rick and Tom podcast: Should the Rays go full fire-sale mode?

As baseball’s hot stove starts heating up, should the Rays go full fire sale to build for the future?In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether the Rays should trade guys like Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Alex Colome and more,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Roy Moore won’t concede Alabama Senate race; ex-Tampa police sergeant learns fate; older Americans take too many unneeded pills; Rays’ dilemma: Retool or rebuild?

The Daystarter: Roy Moore won’t concede Alabama Senate race; ex-Tampa police sergeant learns fate; older Americans take too many unneeded pills; Rays’ dilemma: Retool or rebuild?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.10News WTSPThe latest 7-day forecast• It was cold. Then it was warm. And now it will be cold again. Our yo-yo weather continues as another cold front rolls in and drops tempera...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Yankees become Tampa Tarpons in a nod to history

Tampa Yankees become Tampa Tarpons in a nod to history

The Tampa Yankees have officially changed the name of the Class A Florida State League team to the Tarpons.The name change is a nod to the original Tampa Tarpons minor-league team that played at Al Lopez Field from 1957-87.For the first four years th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

A chance meeting during a really tough time in Rossie Newson’s life resulted in him finding a talent he never knew he had. After leaving his job as an illustrator at the Tampa Bay Times in 2009, Newson devoted most of his time and energy to his fathe...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Daniel Ruth: Buckhorn stood with good ol’ boys as firefighter proved city harassed her

Daniel Ruth: Buckhorn stood with good ol’ boys as firefighter proved city harassed her

They tried to shut her up. They tried to make her go away. They made her life miserable. Yet Tanja Vidovic — persisted. Long before most people had ever heard of the knuckle-dragging sexually harassing escapades of oafs like Harvey Weinstein, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Woman, 54, killed while crossing U.S. 19 in Hudson

HUDSON — A Hudson woman died Tuesday evening after being struck by a car while crossing U.S. 19 near Babson Avenue, according to Florida Highway Patrol.Patricia Lynn Pla, 54, was crossing U.S. 19 westbound about 6:10 p.m. when troopers said she was s...
Updated: 2 hours ago