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    Letters to the Editors

    Please don't 'sell our soul' for development

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2001


    Re: Does Clearwater need to keep ocean vista? May 6 column by Diane Steinle.

    I read your column and realized for the first time that the proposal actually meant to close off S Gulfview Boulevard in front of the proposed resorts. What a HORRIBLE idea.

    I spend a lot of time in St. Petersburg and see a lot of differences between my hometown of Clearwater and my boyfriend's hometown of St. Petersburg in the way they approached waterfront development vs. preservation.

    St. Petersburg has done a much better job of keeping its true waterfront, the downtown area on the east side of the peninsula, totally open to the public -- from North Shore and Vinoy parks to Straub Park and even down to Lassing Park on the waterfront at 22nd Avenue S. They had the right idea there: Keep the waterfront open, with roads and sidewalks behind it, and then build the big buildings behind the open area. The high-rises can still have a nice view and the public can still have access to the same beautiful view.

    I don't think our beach is in such dire straits that we need to sell our soul (the waterfront view and access) to the developers. Please stop this plan from happening!
    -- Sue Espey, Clearwater

    No, it is not okay with my family that the citizens of Clearwater and their visitors might be denied the ability to drive past the open vista of the Gulf of Mexico on S Gulfview Boulevard.

    If this project is approved, the primary benefit will be to line the pockets of the two groups of potential developers that are currently feuding with each other. The people who live here and the visitors who keep our economy going will not be served by taking away the public road that allows all of us to see the beauty of our public beaches and the beautiful gulf.

    Many come at sunset and, even though parking is at a premium, are still able to see the beautiful vistas as they drive by on S Gulfview Boulevard.

    Many of our elected officials seem to think that the way to develop our beach area is to become another Sand Key, where only the wealthy condo owners or hotel visitors have direct access to the beaches and water. This area is a public recreation area. Public lands should not be allowed to be stolen from the public for any reason.
    -- Catherine M. Venner, Clearwater

    Thanks for writing a column that clearly expresses the feeling of many Clearwater residents who feel our community is being sold down the drain.

    As I look out the balcony of my condo on Island Estates, I remember how glad we were to see the water tower come down and the delight in having a few more inches of gulf to see and enjoy. Now a monstrosity of concrete and iron towers over the beautiful Clearwater Beach Hotel, just to give a handful of millionaires a front-row seat.

    These proposed hotels do not need to confiscate our extraordinary waterfrontdrive on S Gulfview to be very successful. They could easily create an elevated walkway that crosses the street so that their guests can go from the hotel right onto the beach.

    Mr. Markopoulos is partially right. His Days Inn is an eyesore, and it needs to be torn down and replaced with a hotel he can be proud of. The Marriott folks are experts at this game, surely they do not want to create a resort which enrages the locals and undermines the enormous goodwill theirbrand name represents.

    My bags are packed, and if this final insult goes through, my family, my business, and my tax dollars are out of here. Regards.
    -- Bruno Ariotti, Clearwater

    Does Clearwater need to keep its ocean vista? Being a sixth-generation native of Pinellas County, I believe the answer to the question is certainly yes.

    One of the most wonderful things about Clearwater Beach is that all of us that travel south from Pier 60 have the opportunity to see the white sands for which our beaches are so famous and the Gulf of Mexico, which they touch. So many communities in Florida have allowed development to block the views and thus spoil the vista from their main roadway.

    As I travel, many a person will remark about how beautiful Clearwater Beach is, given that it lies in such an urban area. Let's not give up what sets us apart from so many other waterfront communities.

    And for goodness sakes, let's continue to let all of the citizens and visitors alike see how terrific the vista really is.
    -- R. Kelley Johnson, Clearwater

    This is a test, citizens of Clearwater. Two developers have decided to set aside their competitive differences, at least temporarily, in order to satisfy their common need to fulfill their greed at the expense of you, the citizens. To give up one of the few places where you can see the beach from the street is unconscionable.

    This situation is a test of your resolve. Will you take the time to address this with your City Commission, or will you let these developers, with all their time and money, convince them that this is good for the citizenry at large? The choice is yours. Apathy or involvement, which will it be?

    Do you want to see the beach from the street or drive down the alley?
    -- Mike Dallmann, Largo

    I've been waiting for your article about Clearwater Beach for a long time, Diane Steinle, and I thank you. You finally wrote and you put in a diagram so that everyone could see just what would happen if they move S Gulfview Boulevard. The beach view won't belong to the residents of Clearwater anymore, it'll belong to the hotels' guests, and so will the beach.

    We've lived in Clearwater for 30 years, and bit by bit, the beach has become smaller and smaller because of all the development. I like driving along the beach and looking out. I like to park the car and walk on the beach, and I like to watch the sunset. I don't want to lose that.

    My friends tell me that I should get with it, that time marches on, and that Beach by Design is progress. Well, many of those people live on the beach or have access to it. They never drive by that view, so they won't miss it, but I will. Let them build the hotels across from the beach, and leave S Gulfview where it is.

    The idea of parking on some level of a garage, coming down, walking through or around a hotel to get to the beach is disgusting. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

    I don't want to lose the view or more of the beach. It matters to me, and I hope it does to enough people to get them out to protest at hearings, and I hope they have the hearings before we all leave on vacations at the start of June.
    -- M.L. Kulaas, Clearwater

    I was born and raised in Clearwater. I have been going to the beach since I was 6 months old. I am now attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    When people try to tell me about the beaches here, I tell them that what they are describing is no beach to me. I boast about our title as No. 1 city beach in America. Clearwater Beach is not only a beautiful natural asset, it also draws thousands of tourists whose money goes to our schools and roads, among other things. It is an investment that consistently brings back high returns.

    So why, then, are greedy people being allowed to spoil this magnificent jewel of the western Florida coast? All one needs to do is look down toward Sand Key to see what rampant development can do.

    The view of Clearwater Beach has inspired people of all ages to devote time to conservation. It is a tropical addition to the multifaceted beauty of America. There should be no more development on Clearwater Beach. It has been exploited enough.
    -- Leslie Caroline Stewart, Chapel Hill, N.C.

    My husband and I honeymooned in Clearwater Beach in 1979 and have returned there for our anniversary ever since. We always drive down S Gulfview as we go to our hotel for that first view of the gulf across Clearwater Beach. When we leave, we always drive down S Gulfview to say our goodbyes to the beach.

    The open view is something which we always eagerly anticipate. It is something that sets Clearwater Beach apart from the others.

    While we realize that change is inevitable, we hope the decision-makers will not lose Clearwater Beach in the change.

    Keep the "ocean vista." It is Clearwater Beach.
    -- Lara Schapker, Evansville, IN

    Yes, it would be wonderful to keep the gulf vista, one of the few vistas along the coast. However, there is another reason to stop the new plans designed by the two warring developers. We need the parking area south of Pier 60 close to the beach. If I have to park on a deck behind the hotels and schlep a cooler, chairs, table, umbrella, etc., that far, I will go to Sand Key, where I can park conveniently. I believe many families will do the same. Are you listening, Clearwater?
    -- Eleanor Vosbein, Dunedin

    Last evening I had the occasion to drive south on Gulfview Boulevard from the roundabout to the Adam's Mark, and I carefully viewed the beach vista to the west. Beautiful beach views such as this were one of the reasons my wife and I decided to settle in Clearwater over 20 years ago.

    We would be out of our minds to eliminate such breathtaking scenes which epitomize the loveliness of our gulf shore. I was appalled to think that such natural beauty might be replaced with tall, man-made structures. Who enjoys driving through the concrete canyon that Gulfview becomes south of the Adam's Mark?

    So, in addition to my serious concerns about hurricane evacuation, exacerbated traffic problems, fire/medical difficulties, and our extreme water shortage, I strongly oppose the 150-foot-high, 600-unit increased density, proposed structures which would eliminate an unforgettable vista on our precious barrier island of Clearwater Beach.
    -- Bill Schwob, Clearwater

    Your column was very interesting. After traveling the whole state and seeing most of the beaches, I believe Clearwater Beach is the finest beach in Florida.

    I don't think the Clearwater City Commission should allow anyone to close part of Gulfview Boulevard just to give direct access to the beach for two new resorts. This benefits no one except the owners of the resorts.

    Tourists are welcome any time, but Clearwater Beach, including Gulfview Boulevard, belongs to the residents of Clearwater, not for some developers' personal gain.
    -- Ed Lee, Clearwater

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