Dan Massaro might not have been born or raised in Dunedin, but there’s no denying he’s played an integral part in shaping it into the thriving vacation and living destination that it is today.
Some of the projects he was involved in include the development of the Pinellas Trail and downtown Main Street, restoring the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society Museum buildings and bringing the Blue Jays to Dunedin.
For his many efforts and contributions to the community over the past 35 years, the 67-year-old former architect and Chicago native was named the Beatrice Donoghue Delightful Award winner for 2011.
“The first Delightful Dunedin Award was given by the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce in 1966 to recognize someone who had given back to our community and made a difference here over the course of many years,” Chamber president Lynn Wargo said via email.
“Dan Massaro was selected this year as the recipient in recognition of more than 20 years of giving back to this community. Dan has served on numerous city committees and helped guide the redevelopment of the downtown area. He is a quiet leader who works tirelessly behind the scenes to make this community a better place to live and do business.”
Dunedin Patch sat down with Dan at his home as he reflected on what the award means, his contributions, and what the future holds for him and his adopted hometown.
Q: How did a big city guy come to play such a big part in Dunedin’s revitalization?
A: "I was a designer and builder of financial institutions in Chicago. One man I had a lot of business dealings with was Lou Dunn. He moved to Dunedin in the early 1970s, later became Chamber president…and I followed him down here shortly after. I fell in love with the laid back beauty of the town immediately.
"I first got involved with the Community Block Grant Program, which focused on street improvements downtown, in 1975. A few years later I joined the Dunedin Technical Advisory Committee, which laid the groundwork for future developments.
"From there I got involved with various committees and boards…that helped shape the city into what it is today.
"I’ve always been involved and I like to do what I can to help. I've had my fingers in a lot of things, even if I didn't stand at the podium."
Q: Which project or projects are you most proud to have been a part of?
A: "In 2004 the Rotary Club of America challenged all of its clubs to come up with a project to honor the centennial anniversary of the Rotary.
"As a member of board of the Rotary Club of Dunedin North, I was elected co-chair of the selection committee. We decided to pair with the Downtown Club, which was co-chaired by Susan Latvala, and we had to choose which project would best represent the centennial.
"We decided on the Honeymoon Island Nature Center, which took the old bathhouse from the back of the property, moved it to the front of the grounds and converted it into a nature center. That was one of the projects I worked on that I was most proud to be a part of, because it has so much value to so many people."
Q: Dunedin has changed a great deal since you first moved here in 1973. What other changes do you foresee?
A: "The water is a big drawing point, but it presents unique problems because it is divided by Alternate 19. It will be a bigger part of the attraction (to the community) in the future.
"The causeway is also an asset. It’s an opportunity that is difficult to capitalize on due to differing jurisdictions. Being on the Local Planning Authority, I want to see development out there. But the city has done an excellent job with studies to be prepared to develop it when the time comes."
Q: Does this award carry more meaning for you since you knew Beatrice Donoghue?
A: "I knew many of the previous winners, so just to be recognized with them is an honor...Beatrice’s son, Kevin, was a very good friend of mine. Bea was very much involved with the city. We served on the Design Award Committee together from 1979–1982. She was so full of energy and ideas and willingness to help the community. So knowing her and her son, I got to appreciate what she was all about."