Carl Schrader is surprised at the number of first-time visitors to Crest Lake Park, even after walking through it an hour a day for weeks now.
Schrader walks the park, talking to people there, asking them a few questions for a survey. The sampling is research the president of the Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition is making as part of his plans to get the bathrooms reopened at Crest Lake Park.
“It’s kind of more credence to getting the bathrooms opened," he said. "The bathrooms limit how long they stay and the time they stay at the park.”
The bathroom doors are currently welded shut.
Schrader plans to formally ask city leaders for their help to get them unwelded by March 7.
Schrader will present a resolution asking the City Council to reopen the bathrooms within two weeks at its meeting Feb. 21. He is encouraging Skycrest neighbors, and others, to come out to the meeting in support.
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Neighbors are riding a wave of fury in the wake of the stabbing of Jason Paul near Crest Lake Park Jan. 6. His killer still is not found.
Many residents have said that the bathrooms should be reopened at the park and better lighting should be developed for the park for safety.
The bathroom's closure is part of the city’s efforts to usher homeless into social services. They were closed June 11, 2012.
The neighborhood group is trying to use its sway to help the Skycrest Neighbors Association, which unanimously approved supporting a resolution to try and get the bathrooms opened.
Part of it reads:
“The representatives (of the Skycrest Neighbors Association) spoke about the timeline of this closure and the burden it now places on visitors to the park. They said visitors to the park were area residents as well as out of area visitors and included young children through senior adults. They asked for the support of the coalition to get the restroom facilities reopened.
The public should be able to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this park without the fear of knowing or suddenly learning that its restrooms have been welded shut. We are aware of the constraints and limitations that the City of Clearwater is under but surely there is some room for compromise that will fit the city’s constraints and the needs of the public.”
A group exercised to the upbeat sounds from a boombox at the park Tuesday. Seagulls sat on the grassy banks next to Crest Lake. A handful of dog owners walked through the concrete paths around the park as the breeze whistled through what is left of the leaves on the maple trees.
Schrader spends time walking through the park talking to those who use it. He has found out they are not all from Clearwater. While some are from the neighboring Skycrest Neighborhood, others come to enjoy the dog park or playground.
Not everyone comes to Clearwater to go to the beach, he said.
Schrader is hoping for a compromise that somehow gets the seven bathrooms reopened at least during the daylight hours most of the week.
“There has to be some kind of creative way to do this,” Schrader said. “We would like to have some kind of compromise.”
Neighbors even have offered to take over cleaning the facility if cost is a factor. Schrader said the neighborhood group was told costs to maintain the park are about $60,000 a year, but city officials are working on a breakout of the bathroom costs, he said.
While thick metal bars are welded across the seven doors, a nearby water fountain offers drinking water for people and their pets. Along the outside wall are sinks and faucets with running water. Inside the stalls, the lights above the toilets are on even during the day.
“I really don’t like the statement that it sends. Not just locked but welded shut,” Schrader said. “It kind of says we don’t want you here.”
The group is looking for options rather than welded doors, Schrader said.
If you go:
What: City council meeting
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 21
Where: City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave
- Skycrest Neighbors: Open the Bathrooms, Have More Events at Crest Lake Park
- How Can Crest Lake Park Be Improved?
- What Are Your Ideas for Fun at Crest Lake Park?
- Stabbing Sparks Question of Safety at Crest Lake Park
- What Clearwater's Saying: Safety at Crest Lake Park