|Palm Harbor, Florida|
Location in Pinellas County and the state of Florida
Palm Harbor is roughly 45 minutes north of downtown St. Petersburg and west of Tampa. It is a largely residential community with several concentrations of commerce. Downtown Palm Harbor, north of Tampa Road between U.S. Highway 19 Alternate and Omaha Street, hosts many small shops and eateries along with a handful of historic buildings. U.S. Highway 19, a mile or two east of downtown, offers access to higher concentrations of commerce, with an array of national chain restaurants and retailers. One entrance to Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, a nationally-regarded golf course, is found on U.S. 19.
Palm Harbor is known for its excellent public schools. All are rated "A" by the state and have scores of 9s or 10s from GreatSchools.
The historic downtown district of Palm Harbor, at Florida Avenue and Alt. US 19 and CR 1, has numerous festivals and craft fairs. Old Palm Harbor Main Streets, Inc., a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, hosts their signature event the first Friday of every month. "Palm Harbor's First Friday Celebrations" are a popular community event for youngsters and adults alike. There are rides and games for the children, with opportunities to dine on food from the many local restaurants, enjoy local artists and crafters displaying and selling their wares. Annually, the first Sunday in October marks when the "Taste of Palm Harbor" festival is held. The event is presented by the Palm Harbor Junior Women's Club with the proceeds benefiting their "Making a Difference" grants & scholarships program. The Taste of Palm Harbor traditionally offers live music and the tasting of samples from over 20 local restaurants, many of which make seafood their specialty.
Palm Harbor is an unincorporated part of Pinellas County. HB 183 - Town of Palm Harbor/Pinellas County, from 2009, was the most recent local bill that would have scheduled a referendum allowing Palm Harbor voters the opportunity to decide if they want to incorporate, but the bill died in committee. Pinellas County legislators had voted on January 22, 2009, to support a bill allowing voters in Palm Harbor to decide if they wanted their unincorporated community to become the county's 25th city. It passed over the objections of Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who said she was appearing in both her official capacity and as a Palm Harbor resident. The Legislature would have needed to first conduct a feasibility study to make sure cityhood made fiscal sense.
In 1985, the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners enacted County Code 85-28,which set into place the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency (PHCSA), a special taxing district to which tax was levied in the form of millage to provide for recreational and library services to the unincorporated community. The PHCSA board is a volunteer panel elected by the voters within the district to oversee the funding of Palm Harbor Library, East Lake Community Library and Palm Harbor Parks & Recreation.
Palm Harbor was originally called Sutherland, a shortening of Southern Land and Development Company, the group that originally platted the community as Sutherland, Hillsborough County, in 1888. The name was changed to Palm Harbor in 1925. Palm Harbor was originally settled by area pioneers including the Thompsons ca 1865, the Whitehursts, the Hollands, the Tinneys, the Suttons, the Rivieres, the Bensons, the Roberts, The Billgores, The Severs, The Allens, the Aldermans and the Wilsons. J.C. Craver was the first Northerner to permanently settle in this portion of Hillsborough County. According to Craver's diary, still in the family, he came here in the winter of 1877 upon the advice of his physician. A post office commission under the name of Bay St. Joseph was granted in 1878, this being the earliest written record of the community. The name Bay St. Joseph was used only a short time before Yellow Bluff replaced it. But that name proved relatively short-lived, as a few years later its negative connotation with the yellow fever epidemic gave way to its present name. Palm Harbor was originally called Sutherland after a post office was granted in 1888, the same year the railroad came through. Sutherland boasted two beautiful hotels, the larger one becoming Southern College in 1902. It sat high on the bluff overlooking Sutherland Bayou and the Gulf of Mexico. Sutherland was thought to be named after the Duke of Sutherland, who visited these parts after landing at Tarpon Springs in 1887. Local pioneers dismiss this coincidence, pointing out that the name Sutherland is a shortening of Southern Land and Development Company, the group which originally platted the community in 1888.