Residents of the area hope the office at the corner of South Greenwood and Woodlawn avenues will help deter drug dealers.
By ERIC STIRGUS
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 17, 2000
CLEARWATER -- The new white building with the green trim at the northwest corner of South Greenwood and Woodlawn avenues is no Taj Mahal, admits Duke Tieman, president of the South Clearwater Citizens for Progressive Action, a neighborhood community group.
Still, Tieman sees beauty in the box-like structure. The building, to serve as a police substation and a community service center, opened Saturday. Residents like Tieman hope the structure will be a visible presence that will curb local drug dealers.
"I think it's fantastic, and you are going to see a lot of things being done," Tieman said.
It is called the South Greenwood Neighborhood Police Substation, a 5,000-square-foot building that residents and police hope will deter criminals who had made the corner and much of the neighborhood their domain.
"We've got a very good handle on" crime in South Greenwood, said Police Chief Sid Klein. "It's not resolved, but the visibility of a substation should further reduce that."
Police had been operating out of a cramped office inside a warehouse a block from the corner. "Before, most people didn't know where we were," said Officer Jeff Rawson, one of four officers who will work from the substation.
The substation will also have a library, computer room, kitchen and meeting space run by the Foundation Village Neighborhood Family Center for residents' use.
"I love it," said John Jenkins, 74, who has lived in the neighborhood for 38 years.
The substation is the ninth in Clearwater. The first was built in North Greenwood in 1983.
Initially, the substation was not well received.
"They thought we were building a jail," Klein recalled.
But with time, and programs like a computer-learning center, the substation eventually won over most residents.
"There were some people who had some concerns," recalled Tal Rutledge, a longtime area businessman who said some residents now wish the substation was open longer. "Now, really, I don't hear much about the substation."
Police have had office space in the South Greenwood neighborhood since 1994 when officers operated out of a big closet inside the Ross Norton Recreation Center. Two years later, police moved to the warehouse.
The warehouse was a block away from the northwest corner of South Greenwood and Woodlawn, then a vacant lot strewn with bottles, paper and other debris.
Foreseeing the opportunity to do more with the lot, and to remove the drug dealers that operated there, residents sought help from city officials and community groups.
In March 1998, the Community Service Foundation was awarded a $224,527 anti-drug grant from the federal government which was used, along with $192,000 in federal community development block grants, to build the substation.
"We've gone from this bleak corner to a state-of-the-art facility," said Community Service Foundation executive director Jerry Spilatro.
Clearwater Beach: 483 Mandalay Ave., Suite 20
Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project: 1339 Park St.
Countryside: 2851 McMullen-Booth Road
Jasmine Courts: 2930 Sandalwood Ave.
North Greenwood: 1310 N Greenwood Ave.
Old Clearwater Bay: 1217 N Fort Harrison Ave.
Sabal Springs: 2640 Sabal Springs Drive.