Residents in the Skycrest neighborhood are disturbed and scared in the wake of the second stabbing within a year near Crest Lake Park.
Jason Paul was found stabbed to death in the early morning hours of Jan. 6 almost a year from when Melissa Dohme was brutally attacked, stabbed and left for dead by her ex-boyfriend. Dohme did survive.
The area also was the scene for 352 other calls for service by Clearwater Police from June to January, said Elizabeth Watts, police spokeswoman, mostly for suspicious people, ordinance violations and complaints about the homeless.
But Mayor George N. Cretekos says residents need not worry and that neighbors can take the tragedy as an opportunity to become more involved and active in the community.
“Crimes like this increase the efforts and awareness,” Cretekos said. “Hopefully it makes the neighborhood more aware of helping each other out.”
It also puts Crest Lake Park at the center of discussions about safety.
The public space is one of the city’s signature parks and should reflect that, Cretekos said.
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Largo’s Central Park is successful because it is inviting, Cretekos said. He said the success of the nearby Doggy Days dog park shows that investment can have its payoffs.
“If you have something there, it will draw people to the park,” Cretekos said.
However, neighbors say problems around the park are partly caused because the bathrooms are welded shut. City officials said this was done as a cost-saving effort at other neighborhood parks as well.
The Clearwater Neighborhood Coalition, a neighbor group, unanimously passed a resolution urging city leaders to reopen one if not both of the restrooms at the park at its meeting Jan. 7.
"The park is dying as vagrants are using the bushes as bathrooms and there are no facilities for children and park users," according to minutes from that meeting.
The group plans to formally present the letter to city leaders in February.
The park could see a transformation, but it would take several years, Cretekos said.
The site needs improvements such as more lighting and visibility to traffic along Gulf to Bay Boulevard, where a series of berms block views of the park, Cretekos said. Money for the park could come from Penny for Pinellas funding, he said.
There also is some interest in adding a Veterans Memorial component to the park, Cretekos said. A long time ago there were water activities like kayaking available at the large lake, Cretekos said.
Still, the bathrooms are shut for the foreseeable future.
“It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s probably going to take several years,” Cretekos said. “I really would like for us to concentrate on trying to improve that park and make it a draw for the entire community.”
Anyone with information in the stabbing death of Jason Paul can contact Clearwater Police's Tip Line at 727-562-4422. Send tips anonymously to 847411 (tip411) or online at the police website, www.clearwaterpolice.org, or Facebook page.
If you go:
What: Skycrest Neighbors meeting
When: 7 p.m. Jan. 29
Where: Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2001 Rainbow Dr.
- Parents, Coworkers Remember Stabbing Victim Jason Paul
- Skycrest Neighborhood Shaken in Wake of Stabbing
- Clearwater Police Search for Clues in Crest Lake Park Stabbing
- Clearwater Police Investigate Homicide Near Crest Lake Park
- Clearwater Police Ask Public for Help to Solve Homicide Near Crest Lake Park