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A name way too Bland

Ken Donofrio was dropping off some incorrectly delivered mail for his neighbor, Dewey Leigh, when he overheard a familiar conversation.

"Dewey was telling someone on the phone, "Yes, it's Bland Way. Yes, like no spice at all,' " Donofrio recalled. "I said, "I don't believe this. I've said that the exact same way.' "

With that, a cause was born.

Donofrio and his neighbors on Bland Way thought a waterfront street as lovely as theirs, with its sabal palms and sunset vistas, deserved a better name. So they knocked on doors, collected petition signatures and presented their idea to the Madeira Beach City Commission.

The neighbors' new name of choice? Sunset Cove.

The only person who formally objected to such civic activism was Deidre Pruitt of Seminole, whose grandfather Roscoe Parsley and father James A. Pruitt Jr. were two of Madeira Beach's pioneers. They are the namesakes of Pruitt Drive and East and West Parsley streets in Madeira Beach, and D.G. Bland was James Pruitt's business partner.

"My family, as well as the extended generations, for the most part, are still local land developers who own their own companies," Pruitt wrote in a letter protesting the petition. "None of us would like to see this bit of local history rearranged for the sake of image."

Donofrio insists he intended no disrespect. He and his neighbors just wanted a street name that reflected where they live, like other streets in Madeira Beach such as Bayshore and Island drives.

"It's not an effort to erase our history," he said.

In a resolution replete with whereases and therefores, the City Commission voted unanimously last week to change the name because, as the resolution states, residents "wish to improve their street's image and desire to be proud of the name and not have to explain every time they say it."

The entire process, from Leigh's phone call to the petition drive to the commission's resolution, took about six weeks.

The Madeira Beach Post Office has signed on to the name change. Sunset Cove residents are busy changing their driver's licenses and preprinted address labels.

And now that the neighbors have gotten to know each other, they plan to have a block party.