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Shh! Hillsdale area quietly reveals park

It's the city park with no name alongside a busy residential street.

Residents on Hillsdale Avenue know it's there, but they never use it except occasionally to walk their dogs.

"Let's see," Community Development Director Ric Goss said Thursday afternoon as he reviewed a list of city-owned properties. "All of our parks have something. But this one, it appears, has nothing. Zip."

To be specific, the half-acre park with no name has exactly two trees and two "no-parking" signs.

Thursday, a car was parked on the grass directly in front of the "no-parking" sign. No one seemed to care.

But come this weekend, there will be no room for cars.

That's because a group of residents recently got together with the Largo Police Department to organize the Southwest Neighborhood Association, and this weekend they will utilize their park.

Saturday, the park will be filled with garage-sale-type tables and people hawking whatever they have dragged out of their closets. Sunday, a neighborhood picnic is planned with free hot dogs, soft drinks and other treats donated by area merchants.

The no-name park will be jumping.

"That's good, that's good," Goss said. "I like neighborhoods like that. Pretty soon they'll be asking us for charcoal grills."

Recreation and Parks Director Cathy Santa said her department is well aware of the park. City workers mow it weekly.

She's not sure how the city came to own it but thinks it happened when a developer was building in the neighborhood and was required to leave vacant a half-acre of green space.

Over the years, Santa said she and her staff have talked about putting a number of amenities in the park, including playground equipment. But nothing ever materialized. So the park just sits there unused and unnoticed.

"It's called everything," said Mark Hassall, president of the newly formed Southwest Neighborhood Association, "the circle, the square, the horseshoe, the cul-de-sac, the school bus stop."

On the map in Goss' office, it simply says "park."

On fliers handed out to neighborhood residents advertising this weekend's activities, it's called Hillsdale Circle, the same name as the street that flanks it on three sides.

Hassall said he has lived near the park for three years and just recently, while planning this weekend's events, learned it was city property.

"I was surprised to find out it was a city park," said Sgt. Jim Precious, head of Largo's community policing program. Precious is working with the neighborhood residents on this weekend's activities.

As it turns out, the park is the perfect place to hold neighborhood gatherings. It's centrally located and residents know it's there even if they never use it, Hassall said.

The park will have served a purpose if neighbors get together there this weekend to meet each other and share concerns about neighborhood problems, Hassall said.

He added that this neighborhood, off Indian Rocks Road behind Sun Coast Hospital, is no different from many others in that people remain strangers even though their houses are only a few feet apart.

"I've lived here three years and had fallen into that old trap," Hassall said. "I knew the people on the left and right but had never met the people across the street."

Maybe this weekend. At the park.

Grand unveiling

The Southwest Neighborhood Association will have a yard sale and neighborhood cleanup from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hillsdale Avenue park. Tables can be rented for $2 or you can reserve a location on the grass. All proceeds will be yours. Call 587-6763 to reserve a table.

Sunday, neighbors are invited to a block party at the park from noon until 4 p.m. There will be free hot dogs and soft drinks. Bring a lawn chair.