Clearwater transforms city park into family-friendly oasis

About a mile east of downtown Clearwater, an extreme makeover, park edition has transformed Crest Lake Park into a destination to enjoy the outdoors in the heart of the city.

On a Sunday afternoon, the island of green north of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, is buzzing with folks using the new amenities and facilities built as part of a recently completed $5.7 million reconstruction project.

Couples stroll down the boardwalk along the shore of the lake while the serious walkers use the wide, paved recreation trail around the outside of the park. 

Families gather in the shade of the new picnic shelters, while others take in the view from the new pavilion overlooking the lake. 

Laughing, shouting children climb, swing, slide, jump and run at four new playground areas.
Two new beach volleyball courts are ready for a game. A splash pad play area is installed for use in the summer months ahead. There is also a new restroom building in a park that did not have bathrooms for years.

New native landscaping and rain gardens are spread throughout the park. An interactive feature allows folks to scan QR codes affixed to decorative stones near the landscaped areas to learn about the plants and trees in that section. There are new parking spaces along Glenwood Avenue and a new parking lot near the Florida Veterans Memorial Plaza.
Until now, Crest Lake’s primary attraction has been its busy dog park, which remained open while the city closed the bulk of the park for renovations. 

Parks & Recreation Director Jim Halios expects the multi-million dollar facelift will now attract more residents and families looking to spend a day in a neighborhood nature park in the city center.

“It’s a totally different experience,” Halos says. “It has a lot more amenities to allow people to enjoy nature, the lake, and the natural setting. It has a lot more active amenities with the new playground and the splash pad that is coming online later. There’s a lot more to do and it’s a lot more user-friendly.”

Clearwater funded the Crest Lake Park project with money from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement. The firm Wharton-Smith Inc. was in charge of construction for the park renovations.

For more information about local park amenities, visit Clearwater Parks & Recreation.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather, and Florida's wealth of outdoor festivals.