1979: Deadly Blue Sink to be a project jewel

Published May 20, 2007

MAY 15, 1979

PALM HARBOR - The murky waters of the Blue Sink have been a fatal lure for adventurous divers for years, and a magnet for trespassing teenagers seeking a secluded party site.

Decades ago, it was used to water the nearby orange groves, but in more recent times the Blue Sink has satisfied young explorers' lust for danger. Five divers have lost their lives there since 1961, exploring more than 100 feet below the surface. They weren't the first to die in the sink, however.

A woman died there "before the war, " according to longtime residents of the area. The story goes that she was intoxicated and fell or was shoved into the water.

Many stories have grown up about the large, freshwater sinkhole, which includes a treacherous cave. The mists that rise from the water at certain times of the year contribute to the atmosphere of mystery.

Some longtime residents believe that the Blue Sink has a deep underwater passageway that leads to the Gulf of Mexico, bubbling up in a freshwater boil just off Crystal Beach. One story goes that an Indian drowned in the sink and his body later surfaced in the gulf. The water level in the sink rises and falls, as though with the tide.

The lush ferns and trees that grow around the dark pool have sheltered lovers, daredevils, fun-loving children and destructive adolescents.

But now a new chapter is ready to be written in the Blue Sink's history. It is scheduled to become a jewel of a swimming hole for a just-started development of expensive new homes.

"It will be a real nice park area, " said Raymond Hoierman, one of the developers of the subdivision. "It's a safe place to swim. There's no reason for anyone to drown there except stupidity."

Hoierman is secretary-treasurer of Admiral Construction and Realty, which joined with four other companies to buy the spring and surrounding property east of Alt. 19. The others are Naumann Custom Homes, Skandia Construction, Checkmate Construction and Braun and Hartman Construction.

Called "Hidden Lake" after an 11-acre lake at the entrance to the subdivision, the development is now a vast expanse of empty land and neatly paved winding streets that go nowhere.