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Hyde Park needs historic signs, a homeowner says

An urban designer has designs on distinctive street and stop signs - at least 67 of them at $1,000 a pop.

By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 14, 2003


HYDE PARK -- What's in a street name?

Sometimes nothing too poetic. It's the the sign itself that counts. Especially one that's heavy, ornate and old-fashioned.

Tampa urban designer Randy Hollingworth, who lives in a Hyde Park neighborhood still marked by the more mundane signs of the late 20th century, wants streets in the neighborhood to hearken back to an earlier era.

"When you start seeing signs that are all the same, you begin identifying the neighborhood as something different," Hollingworth said, "something worth preserving."

Hollingworth owns a restored 1927 bungalow in Historic Hyde Park. His neighborhood stretches from Swann Avenue to Bayshore Boulevard and from Rome Avenue to Howard Street. He wants street signs to match the look of those already standing in other parts of Hyde Park. That goes for free-standing stop signs as well.

Hollingworth is recruiting members of his neighborhood association, Hyde Park Preservation Inc., to go door to door and ask residents whether they would like to make a donation for a sign that would go on their own corners.

It's a novel fundraising approach, but Hollingworth thinks people are more likely to contribute if the end result is within shouting distance.

He has counted 67 signs so far that would need to be replaced. The cost -- $1,000 per sign -- includes installation.

"I think this (the signs) adds a lot of value to the neighborhood and to property," he said. "Like streets that have trees, it will add to the overall pleasant look of the streetscape."

Hollingworth, who led a recent effort to improve nearby Kate Jackson Park, pays particular attention to streetscapes. He thinks the defining characteristic of Hyde Park -- and what makes it different from a many newer Tampa neighborhoods -- is "the interaction" between the houses and the street.

"The porches people sit on are close to the street, and when people walk from house to house, they say, 'Hi.' You don't see garages," he said. "You see porches and verandas. It's very pedestrian-friendly."

Despite the congeniality of the neighborhood, Hollingworth doesn't expect residents to foot the whole bill -- nearly $70,000. Proceeds from a neighborhood house tour in March will go toward purchasing the new signposts. He is also trying to organize a summer music concert in Old Hyde Park Village that will raise money for the effort.

"It's a pretty massive effort," he said. "But in the end, people will drive home every night, see the corner street sign and know that they helped raise the money for it."

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