Today's Letters: Beach parking is horrendous
By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published March 26, 2007
The Clearwater Beach parking issue has become an absolute outrage. March 11 saw nightmare gridlock as endlessly circling vehicles doubled back on each other. There really weren't that many vehicles, it was just that they had nowhere to go.
As I rolled along the causeway trail on my bike, I noticed large numbers of beachgoers giving up and turning their cars around at the crossovers. Sadly, it was the nice family types that were bailing out, while the "boom-boom-boom" troublemakers continued on to the beach, seemingly unfazed by the gridlock.
At the grassy area on the south side of the causeway near the Mandalay Channel bridge, some lucky beachgoers took advantage of the small free parking area provided there. However, dozens of others, who parked in the adjacent grass strip that runs down the causeway, returned to their vehicles to find them adorned with parking tickets.
Meanwhile, sidewalk explorers heading south on the west side of Mandalay Avenue found themselves forced to cross the street at the pedestrian crossover near the boating concessions. However, there was no follow-up crossing arrangement provided for their return to the beachside attractions along Gulfview Boulevard. Elderly tourists and parents pushing strollers were forced to bob-and-weave their way through the uninterrupted line of vehicles to get back to Gulfview.
On Coronado Avenue, (where Phase I of Beach Walk was finished on schedule?), the sidewalk on the east side is just a hodge-podge of concrete blocks, making it impossible for bicyclists, strollers or even older walkers to negotiate safely. On the west side, the sidewalk mysteriously stops and starts, forcing more unsafe crossings.
By the way, there was no actual construction taking place. Apparently, Beach Walk is being built by a single shift of workers. Unreal. No wonder it's going to take two years. By then, the business owners and the money-spending tourists and the nice family visitors to Clearwater Beach will have had enough.
But the one group that seems oblivious to the inconvenience - the loud, obnoxious penny-pinching young troublemakers - will still be flocking to the beach, imprinting it with their foul attitudes.
Our city leaders say they want to turn the beach into a first-class destination, but what they're doing repels the very clientele they seek to attract. The gigantic blind spot the city has regarding parking is representative of its inability to identify and prioritize the elements of its own future.
The public cannot feel confident in Clearwater's leaders until they demonstrate an awareness of what everyone else can see so clearly.
Fix the parking problem!
Dave Spath, Clearwater
Easy way to find beach parking
With all the bad press Clearwater Beach has gotten lately for its traffic and parking problems, I thought I'd go and see for myself. On the weekend. During spring break. How bad could it be?
As it turns out, it's not that bad. I made it through downtown Clearwater, no problem. I was over that beautiful new bridge without a glitch and rolled across the causeway non-stop, enjoying the view, the cry of the seagulls and the salt air.
I always worry about the little bridge on the west end of the causeway, but there was no reason to worry the day I went; I got right over it.
My first stop was at Pier 60. I parked and walked out on the pier, taking in the view and watching a kayaker out beyond the breakers, wondering what his view of the island might be like from out there. Young people walked the pier, but far more people were out on the sand and in the surf. It was a chamber of commerce day, and rightfully so. This is why we're here.
From there, I went over to the Clearwater Marina, one of my favorite places. I had no problem getting there and no trouble finding parking. I bought a Gatorade at the beach's smallest convenience store in the back of the marina and sat on a bench outside the store to take it all in. It was a beautiful day. No problems.
So how is it that I can get to the beach so easily and find parking - and free parking at that - everywhere I go? Easy. I ride a bicycle. I know better than to try to drive down there. For me, the beach is a relaxing ride any day of the week - even on spring break weekends. It's truly the only way to go.
Can't (or won't) ride a bicycle? Clearwater operates a wonderful red trolley bus system to the beach from downtown. Take it. Why would you want to drive and pay for parking - if you can find it - when you can relax and have a worry-free day at the beach?
It comes down to this: Driving is a privilege, not a right. Parking, if offered at all, is offered as a courtesy and not required by any law. There are, in this case, viable alternatives to driving your private vehicle to the beach. If you don't take them, don't expect much sympathy from those of us who do. And keep your bike's tires pumped.
Chip Haynes, Clearwater
Overdramatized reaction by school
Re: School, family clash on teen's flashing folly, March 16 story
I read the article on Taylor Tillung and his mooning of the drama teacher after being refused admittance to an after-school show at Palm Harbor University High School.
I also saw the young man on the evening news apologizing for his behavior. While I think most would agree his act was foolish, his apology was genuine, credible and contrite.
I don't believe this act could have resulted in his arrest for sexual misconduct, as there was no sexual contact or conduct for that matter. For school officials to suggest that his punishment could have been worse is an attempt to justify their actions while maintaining absolute control over his future. A criminal charge would have been dismissed, and he'd still be in Palm Harbor University High.
The drama teacher states that she was "traumatized" by the mooning, yet refused comment for your report. I think it's incredible that anyone her age could be "traumatized" from getting mooned. I think I suspect a little too much drama on that take.
I believe the suspension, apology and maybe some school groundskeeping would have been punishment enough for this young man. To deprive him of his medical program diploma and missing the rest of his baseball season is nothing less than vindictive.
The drama teacher, principal and those denying his appeals thus far should be ashamed of themselves. I find their actions after the fact much more offensive than getting mooned, which has always been humorous to me.
Frank Kregler, Tarpon Springs
State should act like a trendsetter
Re: Property tax reform
Here is a concept to consider for tax reform - based on experience.
1. Eliminate the "highest and best use" provision for property assessment for all property owners.
2. Roll back property assessments to 2002-2003 - basically, when huge assessments were initiated in Pinellas County and in Florida.
3. Eliminate negative tax preferences for Save Our Homes, to include businesses and others in the plan.
4. Establish Save Our Homes portability within all counties.
5. Enable counties to decide on acceptability of other counties' portability.
Experience is important. I live in Dunedin as a homeowner and full-time resident and have experienced our citizens' plight with their crippling property taxation in recent years. And as one who co-owns with my brother a home in California, I have experienced positive results with this plan, which was enacted there for the very reasons we are confronting here now: recent incredibly high property assessments.
Such a plan works and keeps local governments responsible.
We don't need to discourage any more Pinellas County or Florida residents from selling their homes (especially seniors who choose to downsize) out of fear that they can't afford to relocate in their community or in the state! Florida should be a pace-setter in this regard, and we can.
Dr. Ron Barnette, Dunedin
What they think is sport is torture
I was appalled that you would feature a photograph showing the residents of the Oaks of Clearwater retirement home using squirt guns to "encourage" live turtles to move about a circle for sport.
Also mentioned was blue crab racing. Presumably, the crabs were also "encouraged" to race by squirting them with water and frightening them to "race."
I can't even imagine the minds of people who would take pleasure in tormenting living creatures for sheer fun.
Your editorial comment should be one of exposing animal cruelty and not that of just some old folks enjoying themselves.
Sue Ward, Clearwater
Your voice counts
You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.
[Last modified March 25, 2007, 23:28:17]
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