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Letters to the Editors

Theaters would project life into downtown Clearwater

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2000

Editor's note: The first five letters are about downtown Clearwater redevelopment.

I am a resident of the Countryside area of Clearwater and am strongly in favor of the de Guardiola/Renaissance redevelopment proposal.

While I have only resided here for a little over a year, it is clear that downtown will continue to deteriorate unless it is radically rethought, redesigned and recapitalized.

The pending proposal accomplishes all of those things and represents, in all probability, the final opportunity for at least another generation to reverse the steady decline that has infected the downtown area.

I lived in Santa Monica, Calif., for many years before moving to Clearwater. Santa Monica had gone the way of downtown Clearwater. A public-private partnership was created to revitalize a three-block stretch of downtown.

Initial efforts were tentative and met with limited success. Eventually, three multiplex operators put in a total of about 20 screens in that three-block stretch and the redevelopment effort was stabilized. The screens became the magnet for people, and not just from Santa Monica but from all over the Los Angeles area.

Third Street Promenade, as it was called, became a major success, with national retailers, local boutiques and a wide variety of restaurants competing to be part of the redevelopment.

Clearwater can achieve the same result.
-- Jeff Meyer, Clearwater

Movies are a proven failure; why turn to them again?

Re: Harborview a thorn in downtown plan, story, May 14.

In response to tearing down Harborview Center to build a multiplex theater, I have three words. To quote my wife, "Ritz, Capital, Carib."

For those who have not lived in this beautiful city very long, those words might not mean much. I am referring to the three theaters that have long since gone away in downtown.

Even when the admission to one of them went to $1, it could not keep enough people coming to keep the doors open. What do they think we are going to do with 16 theaters?

We have Tri-City, Largo Mall, Clearwater Mall and three theaters in Countryside.

I believe we would be better off making our $15-million investment in Harborview Center work better for us. If the theaters are so important, find another location for them.
-- Andy Ciociola, Clearwater

Rejecting redevelopment is more of a risk for city

Clearwater has an experienced, reputable developer asking our permission to begin the rebirth of our downtown.

We have heard all the positives: an increased tax base with no direct increase in property taxes, more money for our schools and city, dramatically enhanced quality of life for residents of the entire area, a new library, etc. This will mean change and we all know that any change, positive or negative, is difficult for some to accept.

But it is imperative that we move forward now.

The opportunity is before us today. The question now is yes or no. And if the City Commission says no, what does that mean? Will another reasonable proposal ever be on the table? And while time passes, what will happen to our economy? Will it favor development much longer? As Calvary Baptist wants to sell its property, will the Scientologists add that property to their own?

A "no" vote seems to be a much riskier choice for Clearwater than a "yes" vote.

As informed citizens, we believe the de Guardiola/Renaissance redevelopment of downtown Clearwater merits the commissioners' strongest support.
-- Duane and Jill Rommel, Clearwater

Developer offering community a rosy picture of downtown plan

The people of Clearwater are being sold a very fancy bill of goods from some professional, high-pressure salesmen. I attended several meetings with George de Guardiola and David Frisbie in which the sales pitch for Clearwater's downtown was brilliant, though masked.

The focus group that I attended began with Mr. de Guardiola stating, "We have been hearing that the people want a movie theater on the bluff."

Well, I've been living here for seven years and never once did I hear that. Did they start the meeting with some "idea planting?"

Three quarters of the meeting time was spent on their ideas, even though we were told that they wanted to listen to us. When I questioned the idea of placing people in a dark movie theater on the land with Clearwater's most scenic view, I was politely asked to be quiet and give others a chance to speak. The others who spoke were predominantly the salesmen.

The next meeting at the Harborview (nice name) was in a room filled with Clearwater residents interested in the downtown proposal. And it was a grand presentation, chock-full of technical glitz. The audience was in awe of the pictures these great salesmen presented, and so was I, but important questions went unanswered. How much will it cost us? How will we get people to the causeway when two current roads are eliminated? How will we provide drinking water to a greatly expanded population residing in the new condominiums?

The cost of the developers' proposal is a referendum to give them our beloved bayfront and bluff or else they will not redevelop the downtown. Should I be scared, or can we shop elsewhere?
-- Sonja Haught, Clearwater

Young people should get behind downtown proposal

So a poll of Clearwater residents seems to indicate the downtown plan may be a "no go." So what's new?

I've been here for 40 years. For 40 years the powers that be in Clearwater have been talking downtown change. And for 40 years those same powers have been unable to agree on what that change should be. Now that the powers finally agree, the citizenry doesn't.

I think it's time for the young people of Clearwater to be sure to register and vote in the July referendum.

Otherwise, the town will look old for the next 40 years. Clearwater could be as beautiful as the nature around it.
-- Sue Dunlap, Clearwater

Foresight could have avoided water shortage

Water shortage? You must be joking. For those of you not familiar with our planet, the surface of the Earth is approximately 7/10 water.

Instead of doing the right thing, making the tough decisions and building desalinization plants years ago, our elected city, county and state officials have chosen to deplete our streams, rivers and lakes.

It's bad enough that they didn't have the foresight to prevent our current situation; now they want to raise our water rates.

Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties should have built their own desalinization plants a decade ago. The Penny for Pinellas tax probably could have built a dozen plants, but putting lights on the ball fields was apparently more important than keeping fresh drinking water flowing from our taps.

And why is it most of us are not offered reclaimed water? Why are they dumping it into the gulf and bay?

I'd like to tell our elected officials to go jump in a lake, but I can't find any that they haven't already drained dry.
-- Mark Barsky, Palm Harbor

Dog park would be beneficial for residents and their pets

Re: Give dogs their day at new park, letter, May 11.

This community needs a park for dogs very much. A lot of people live in restricted areas where they can't fence in yards and need a place where their dogs can run and associate with other dogs. Exercise is a very important need for our family pets. Recently I read an article on Paws Park in Sarasota and it sounded like fun for owners and dogs. Why can't we have a park like that? As large as this county is, it is something we could appreciate.
-- Joyce Sweeney, Largo

Blame the pet owners, not the dogs, when problems arise

Re: Loose dogs unleash neighbors' complaints, story, May 14.

As a responsible owner of three dogs and an animal lover in general, I want to urge those who are having problems with loose dogs in their neighborhood to concentrate their efforts on the owner of the dogs, not the dogs themselves.

The dogs are just following their instincts, and aggressive dogs are almost always a product of abuse or neglect by their owner. Loose dogs are a problem not only because they may injure other animals or humans, but also because they risk being hit by cars or shot by angry neighbors. Human beings domesticated dogs, and it is our responsibility to properly train and care for them.

Try contacting your local SPCA or Humane Society, because the owner may very well be neglecting the dogs.
-- Richard Napolitano, Largo

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