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Know it or not, they live in Sun Bay South

Many residents of the area have never heard the name, which the Gandy Civic Association voted on last year.

By RICK GERSHMAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 5, 2002


Sun Bay South has a Sam's Club and a Home Depot.

Sun Bay South? It's the site of a new Hooters.

Sun Bay South, by the last U.S. Census count, is home to about 16,000 people.

Most of whom have never heard of Sun Bay South.

"I've been here seven years, and that's the first I've heard of it," said Ellen Garcia, 38, who lives on Grady Avenue.

"It doesn't sound like us."

A few dozen Gandy Civic Association members hoped it would. At a meeting a year ago, they baptized an entire neighborhood Sun Bay South, seeking to jazz up its image.

Until then, it was simply called Gandy.

"When people hear the word 'Gandy,' their images are of poor, dilapidated, run-down houses -- and it is not that situation here," said Dave Gutcher, the association's president.

"The city gave us the opportunity to rename ourselves," he said, "to make us more attractive to builders, more attractive to Realtors."

Attractive as it might be, the new name isn't exactly catching on.

Sun Bay South? That's in Naples, ventured Lorena Rice, who has lived in the Gandy area for 26 years: "I think it's a resort down there."

Sun Bay South? "It sounds like we're a bank," lifelong resident Nolan B. Canova, 46, writes on his pop culture Web site, www.crazedfanboy.com. "Welcome to Sun Bay South," he quips. "Please use the drive-thru! Uck."

Sun Bay South? "I think it's a nice name, but I don't know anyone who uses it," said Isaiah Harris, 44, a three-year resident.

And where, then, is Sun Bay North?

"No one's ever asked that," Gutcher said.

Sun Bay South is generally defined as the area bordered by Gandy Boulevard to the north; West Shore Boulevard to the west; Interbay Boulevard to the south; and MacDill Avenue to the east.

Gutcher acknowledges that the name has not yet taken root. There are no "Welcome to Sun Bay South" signs posted on the borders, and no marketing materials that use the name. Both are on tap for later this year.

The association plans eventually to change its own name to Sun Bay South, he said, but red tape makes that a slow process. Plans for an association Web site that would promote the name have been delayed until at least this summer.

Sun Bay South will get some promotion Saturday at the "Sun Bay South 2nd Annual Fish Fry." The free event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the civic association's offices, 4207 W Oklahoma Ave.

In the meantime, a search for "Sun Bay South" on major Internet search engines such as Yahoo, Excite or Lycos brings back hits for only one site.

That's crazedfanboy.com, on which Canova -- a Web master by day, security guard by night -- continues to criticize the name.

"I think it's odious," he said this week. "I haven't heard anyone use it. I didn't know about the meeting. I heard about it after the fact, and I didn't like it."

Gutcher's response: The meeting to change Gandy's name was advertised in local media, more than 100 residents nominated potential names and dozens voted at the meeting where the name was created.

"A couple people did call me and tell me they were unappreciative of the name," Gutcher said, "and I asked them, 'Did you get a chance to come out and vote?' They said no.

"I asked, 'Are you a member of the association?' No. 'Would you like to become a member?' Again, the resounding word is, 'No.' "

More than a dozen names originally were nominated, including the unlikely Thunderbolt View, which received none of the 26 votes. Sun Bay South earned 15; Gandy by the Bay, 10; and Gandy Palms, one.

Asked whether "Gandy" should have remained part of the name, Gutcher said he asked residents that very question.

Most didn't want it, he said.

"The name 'Gandy' still has that stigma to it," he said. "No matter where you go, you get that connotation as a SOG."

SOG (rhymes with "log") is a derogatory name for people who live immediately south of Gandy Boulevard, Gutcher said.

"The community was like, there already are so many things here named Gandy," he said.

"We used to have a neighborhood here named Rattlesnake, and some people wanted that as the new name. But we're trying to attract residents.

"Rattlesnake is not a good name for Realtors."

-- Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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