Save the Bayfront can't be trusted for accuracy
By Times editorial
Published August 6, 2006
Here's a big surprise: The group that calls itself Save the Bayfront is against a city proposal to put boat slips west of Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater and already is disseminating misleading information about the idea.
Same old song.
People who read a news release issued last week by the group's leader, Anne Garris, might think that the city's boat slip proposal would result in 1. Coachman Park being fenced off from the public; 2. The view of the Intracoastal Waterway from the park being lost; 3. The park's land-use designation of recreation and open space being eliminated; and 4. Coachman Park becoming the exclusive province of the boaters who rent the boat slips.
None of that is true, but, hey, accuracy hasn't been Save the Bayfront's strong suit in past referendum campaigns either.
During the general election Nov. 7, Clearwater voters will get to tell the city whether it should launch its boat slip plan. This is a much less complex plan than the one voters defeated in 2004, which included boat slips, a downtown parking garage, better facilities for park concerts and a major expansion of Coachman Park's green space.
Days before that referendum, voters received a misleading mailing from Save the Bayfront that showed a fenced-off Coachman Park with stadium-style seats and structures that the city did not propose.
Perhaps Save the Bayfront already is cooking up ways to mislead voters again. This time, we hope Clearwater residents will not fall prey to this opposition group's rhetoric.
The city's proposal consists:
- A promenade extending from the base of Cleveland Street out into the Intracoastal Waterway, built on remaining pilings of the old Clearwater Memorial Causeway drawbridge.
- A low fishing pier and boardwalk extending from the promenade northward to the former ferry dock at the base of Drew Street.
- About 129 boat slips north and south of the causeway. Slips would be rented out to help cover the cost of operating the facility.
- On the Intracoastal side of those docks, there would be hundreds of linear feet of dock, to which visitors could tie up their boats for day visits.
- Near where Cleveland Street meets the waterway, a building of no more than 1,200 square feet would be constructed to house a dockmaster's office and restrooms.
Save the Bayfront opposes any slips north of the bridge, contending that they would not only block the water view from the park but also "take something away from the people of Clearwater."
Far from taking something away, the proposal adds opportunities for the public to use Clearwater's downtown waterfront: a promenade and docks they can stroll to get a great view of the water, the boats and barrier islands; a fishing pier from which children can safely drop a line; floating docks to which boating families can tie up to visit the park or downtown; restrooms, finally. Coachman Park will remain the passive green space it is now.
In the next three months, voters should study the plan drawings, ask questions and walk the waterfront so they can be well armed with the facts before Nov. 7.
[Last modified August 5, 2006, 21:01:37]
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