tampabay.com

Road name saved

A business owner wanted Sheen Drive changed to Essilor, but the former has history.

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published October 4, 2006


SEMINOLE - Roger Fournier didn't want his optical supplies company to operate in obscurity.

Visitors and delivery trucks often have a hard time finding the company off Park Street from Sheen Drive, he said. To complicate matters, a new shopping center anchored by Kohl's soon will obscure the 11-acre Essilor Corp. site from the roadway.

So Fournier asked the city to rename Sheen Drive to Essilor Drive to help ease confusion.

Barbara Sheen Todd, a former Pinellas County commissioner and daughter of the road's namesake, was less than pleased.

More than 30 years ago, her father, Milton Roy Sheen Jr., spearheaded efforts to have Park expanded to four lanes when he operated the Milton Roy Co. at Essilor's current location. At that time, the road known as Sheen was created to provide access to the businesses there.

"Dad did NOT request the naming of the street after him, but in deference and respect for Dad's positive negotiations, the transportation authorities decided to honor him with that modest naming designation," Todd wrote in letters to Fournier and Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds.

Todd also reminded officials of her father's contributions to Pinellas County. Those include serving as the first chairman of the Pinellas Planning Council and was a member of the citizens advisory council to the Metropolitan Planning Organization for more than 30 years.

"In that capacity, it was Dad who suggested the remains of the wrecked Sunshine Skyway become fishing piers, so that the citizens of Florida would remember that tragedy and its victims in a positive way," Todd wrote.

Sheen was also a co-founder of the Pinellas Industries Council and the Bay Area Manufacturers Association.

In the end, the City Council bowed to history and the wishes of a former county politico, unanimously declining Tuesday to change the name of Sheen Drive.

"I was very pleased that everyone took the high road," Todd said. "I was very grateful."

Fournier could not be reached for comment.