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© St. Petersburg Times, published March 27, 2001
Re: Largo considers flat fee for water, March 19 story.
While I am not yet a homeowner in Largo, I am a resident and am considering buying a home in Largo. The city's idea to charge everyone a flat fee for reclaimed water, even if they don't use it, is not fair. Do you get charged for groceries that aren't in your cart at the local grocery store, even though all those things on the shelves are available to you? No, of course not.
Why would we, as non-lawn-watering residents, agree to that if it were put to a vote? There are other ways to recoup costs for the expensive installation of those reclaimed water lines. For starters, you could increase the hookup fee for new residents from $125 to $200 and then spread out the payments over six months like the phone company does with its new customer/new phone number fee. That way, the fee would not seem like so much at once for people.
Second, why not just make the monthly fee be based on how much water each customer actually uses (like regular water), or raise the $7 fee to $10 over the course of a few years?
Charging people for things they don't use is just plain ethically wrong and I believe that many people would not agree to it. And come to think of it, I also recall reading that the city is trying to figure out how to pay for that new proposed library, but I don't recall voting for that either. Most of us don't need any more monthly expenses, thank you. The residents are the ones who pay your salaries; why not ask us for help in solving problems? You may be surprised at what we might come up with.
-- Nanci Windsor, Largo
Re: Commission approves beach resort, March 2 story.
The story evoked a golden oldie, "Oops, there goes another rubber-tree plant." It seems no matter whom we elect to the Clearwater City Commission, the results are the same: "Oops, there goes another expensive high-rise on our beach." Such is not in the interest of the people of Clearwater, but money talks.
Ask most anyone who came to live in Clearwater, say, between 1960 and 1990, why they came. You will probably find that one of the big attractions was the expansive, pristine public beach as well as the liberality of the laws. Clearwater exuded an atmosphere that was a mixture of native originality, nexus-with-nature primitiveness and freedom. As American as apple pie. A mixture that appealed to ordinary Europeans and Americans alike.
A mixture the rich could not abide. They wanted tropical weather for winter golfing, so they pushed on for Fort Myers and, when it opened up, Naples. Those places quickly assumed the trappings of wealth -- towering high-rises that border the beachfronts, grudgingly ceding limited public access; upscale development with jacked-up prices (so high that ordinary serve-the-rich-class citizens couldn't afford to live in Naples, making accommodations for modest subdivisions necessary); and more laws.
They say you can hear a rubber tree growing. With the Garvey administration's "family-centered beach" euphemism, we began to hear the money tree roots moving and shaking Clearwater's sands like worms from the novel Dune. Ooops, there went T-backs and, almost, free speech. Oops, here comes the Roberto Confoundabout. Oops, there goes beach property to a high-rise condo. Oops, now goes a goodly chunk of beach and convenient open-air parking to a high-rise resort for the rich.
Ever wonder how the not-poor residents of Sand Key felt when suddenly their sunny, beach-view properties stared gloomily into the oppressive shadows cast by towering money trees? When they could no longer walk across the street to the beach but had to drive blocks to tiny access areas? Unless you're super-rich, it's a big shadow gonna fall!
-- Pat Vassar, Clearwater
When we moved to Clearwater three years ago, we thought we had found the ideal place to retire. The city wasn't too large, the weather was wonderful, the beach is beautiful and there is plenty to see and do.
Since that time I have learned that the decisions made by our officials are made only for the benefit of the tourists. A good example is the roundabout. Even though most citizens were against it at public meetings, it was still pushed through and has been, and still is, a nightmare.
How can our commissioners and mayor even think about adding more condos and huge hotels when our citizens are being asked to ration water andthe threat of higher rates to compensate for usage is very real? Why can't we fix what's broken and stop destroying our city and beach?
All that new building will do to Clearwater is raise taxes, require larger police and fire departments, and increase road repairs and traffic problems. There are many of us who feel that had we wanted to live in a large city, we would have settled in Orlando, Miami or Jacksonville. Believe me, bigger is not necessarily better.
Why was Harn Boulevard recently resurfaced instead of Fort Harrison Avenue? I never saw a blemish or pothole on Harn, but we all know the condition of Fort Harrison. Why is the former Clearwater Community Hospital at Druid Road and Highland Avenue sitting empty when we are going to build a new library? Why do we want to build more on the beach when we can't get there now thanks to the roundabout backup?
The answer to all of these questions is that the tourists come first in Clearwater. Citizens, wake up before it is too late. Write, call or beg your elected officials to listen.
-- Robert Dyson, Clearwater
Why are the owners of the motels and hotels in Clearwater Beach not demanding that the roundabout be taken down or fixed?
I have been a winter visitor to Clearwater Beach for more than 20 years. This was the first year that there were vacancy signs along Mandalay Avenue and the side streets in February.
Most of us are seniors and look forward to our winters in Florida. With their roundabout, Clearwater is pushing us to look elsewhere on the gulf coast. The traffic backs up on Cleveland Street to State Road 60. Leaving the beach, one prays to reach the other side. There are daily accidents.
The city commissioners of Clearwater should admit their error and correct the situation.
-- J. Kayser, East Hampton, NY