In March 1995, Largo Mayor Thomas "Thom" Feaster startled commissioners by suggesting that a soon-to-be vacant financial complex on Highland Avenue might make a good City Hall and police station. Commissioners thought about it for a year, and in March 1996 asked voters for permission to buy it if they could get a good deal.
Voters said yes, so city negotiators and company representatives went to work. In August, they agreed on a price, $4.6-million, and the deal was sealed. Meanwhile, the company, the Western Reserve Financial Corp., bought land to build a new headquarters in the Feather Sound area.
Until the company's new building is completed sometime in the next two years, it will continue to lease the building at 201 Highland Avenue from the city for $50,000 a month.
Once the city moves into its new digs, the current City Hall and police station will be sold.
Mayor resigns after incident
Bob Clayton, Belleair Shore's controversial mayor for a little more than a year, resigned in May after accosting two people and a child on a beach access next to his house. Clayton said the couple were spying on his neighbor, intending to rob and steal. But the victims said they were merely looking for a place to park near a beach.
They also said they failed to notice "no trespassing" signs that prohibit everyone from reaching the shores of Belleair Shore except residents of neighboring Belleair Beach.
As the couple attempted to get in their car and leave the beach, Clayton grabbed the man and squeezed the woman and her daughter between the car door and the car frame. He also pulled out a gold badge and claimed to be a police officer.
As a state attorney's investigation into the incident began, fellow commissioners persuaded Clayton to step down for the good of the community. Earlier this month, a jury convicted him of battery and criminal mischief. He awaits sentencing.
Cultural Center opening
brings theater to Largo
The $3.7-million Largo Cultural Center opened Nov. 1 in Largo Central Park. A sellout crowd attended November performances of Camelot by Largo's own theater group, Eight O'Clock Theatre.
The building is composed of two parts: a theater with 333 retracting seats and a multipurpose room that can be subdivided.
Money to pay for the building came from state grants, tax dollars and individual contributions, including a $600,000 bequest from Marian Tonne of Belleair Bluffs.