St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 

Big, round and mysterious

The Cleveland Street makeover includes 12 big deals.

By MIKE DONILA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 30, 2007


This is one of the 12 2,000-pound concrete spheres that decorate medians in Cleveland Street as part of the downtown streetscaping project. Clearwater has pretty much wrapped up the project, but why are these 4-foot-tall balls in the middle of Cleveland Street?
photo
[Jim Damaske | Times]
ADVERTISEMENT
photo
[Jim Damaske | Times]
Jennelle Scroggins, 28, seen here with her 16-month-old daughter, Marley, is co-owner of Nature's Rose florist on Cleveland Street. "I really don't know what they're about," she says of the 12 spheres. Many residents share her puzzlement.

CLEARWATER -- City officials hoped to stir civic pride with their $10-million makeover of Cleveland Street.

But so far they've got confusion.

As in, just what the heck are those 12 giant concrete spheres doing in the medians?

Walk down the newly renovated streets and that's what customers at the local shops are talking about. Some have publicly ridiculed the objects. And several city leaders privately joke about their meaning.

Sure, most say, the palm trees look nice, the flowers are blooming and the new street looks sharp. But what exactly are those 2,000-pound concrete spheres supposed to be?

"I have no clue," said city spokeswoman Joelle Castelli.

They're "bizarre," says long-time resident Bob Gardeski, who owns a small moving company.

"Whose idea was that? They're not attractive whatsoever," said Gardeski. "Maybe we should replace them with plastic balls and fill them with M&Ms. We're Florida. What do we do with concrete balls?"

Jennelle Scroggins, 28, co-owner of Nature's Rose florist on Cleveland, said "I really don't know what they're about."

When pressed about the three sets of four spheres, Mayor Frank Hibbard dodged.

"No is ever going to accuse me of being a designer, so we left that one to professionals," he said.

So what do those balls represent?

Eyeballs?

Beach balls?

The earth?

Actually, nothing, says Frank Bellomo, the landscape architect whose Orlando-based firm designed the project. They're just "bollards," or traffic guards, he said.

"We put them there to make sure people wouldn't jump the curb and run into the planters," he said. "There's nothing special about them."

What about the rest of the four-block project from Myrtle Avenue west to Osceola Avenue? Just what is the downtown getting for its money?

The stretch kicks off at Myrtle with two 26-foot tall concrete columns welcoming visitors. More than 50 Medjool date palms line the newly paved sidewalks. There's also four medians that include planters, young oak trees and, of course, the 4-foot-tall balls. Further west, landscapers have planted crape myrtles to add color to the block.

As for the bollards, Bellomo said they may look out of place now, but once the trees fill out and public art is placed in the medians "it will all come together."

In the meantime, he said, "I knew people would talk about it."

At 5:30 p.m. today city leaders will flip the switch for the holiday lighting. The event kicks off in front of the Royalty Theatre and features free cocoa, coffee and cookies. In addition, a live jazz band will play holiday tunes. And Santa is even expected to join in on the lighting and a free screening of Polar Express.

Huh? What the heck are they?

Here are our best guesses, but let us know what you think at northpin@sptimes.com:

  • The planet Jupiter
  • Tuffets
  • Giant hairballs coughed up by monster cats
  • Memorial to geometry
  • Holiday ornaments
  • Matzoh balls
  • Petrified dinosaur eggs
  • Really big paper weights
  • Really small condos
IF YOU GO: Holiday kickoff
At 5:30 p.m. today, city leaders will flip the switch for the holiday lighting. The event kicks off in front of the Royalty Theatre and features free cocoa, coffee and cookies. In addition, a live jazz band will play holiday tunes. And Santa is even expected to join in on the lighting and a free screening of Polar Express.

[Last modified November 30, 2007, 02:38:57]


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT