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Letters to the Editors
Two concerns likely to doom redevelopment proposal
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 25, 2000
I, like many other Clearwater residents, want downtown redevelopment. However, I think the voters will reject the current downtown redevelopment effort in the July referendum for two reasons.
First reason: Many of us asked the developers to complete the contract prior to the referendum so we could see the final deal. The developers said they would do this. However, the mayor and commissioners have decided that a term sheet is all they will produce before the vote. This will not be acceptable to the majority of voters.
Solution: Finish the contract before the July referendum. This is a trust issue, and the voters do not trust the mayor and the commissioners enough, at this point, to base their vote on a term sheet.
Second reason: A 99-year lease of public land. This has been voted down twice in recent history, and the voters will not suddenly vote to approve this in July.
Solution: Continue negotiations with the developers to come up with another deal that fits within the current statutes.
If the Clearwater mayor and city commissioners want the referendum to pass, then I suggest they solve these two major concerns and let the redevelopment plan stand on its own merits.
City has chance to become as vibrant as West Palm Beach
Re: Battle lines forming in downtown debate, story, May 23.
I am a resident of Clearwater and support wholeheartedly the redevelopment of downtown. After attending several presentations on the proposed plan, I am confident George de Guardiola and David Frisbie and our City Commission and management are genuine in their desire to see downtown and Clearwater flourish.
I was fortunate earlier this month to visit West Palm Beach and their Clematis Street, which the developers speak of and compare us to. I wanted to experience an event called "Clematis by Night," which is a weekly downtown event sponsored by the city. It was truly fabulous, though the two dozen or so residents I spoke to all said the attendance was slow, approximately 3,000 people mostly composed of families.
The restaurants were all full, entertainment areas had a continuous flow of people and retail stores were very busy. The amazing part to me was the mixture of residential and how well this has worked. The square had ongoing live family entertainment, crafts and food vendors. One could feel the energy and see the economic engine the revitalized downtown created for West Palm and its residents and businesses.
The best news for Clearwater is that our downtown is way ahead of where Clematis Street started. If this referendum fails, our downtown will continue to disintegrate at a much faster rate because those businesses currently standing will most likely leave. What will be left?
Is this what we want for our children? We have an opportunity to make a real difference in our community's future both economically and from a quality of life perspective. Don't foolishly give this opportunity up because you don't like a small piece of the plan. Look at the big picture and vote yes.
Clearwater has need for more sense, not more consultants
Re: Harborview might be thorn in Clearwater plan, story, May 14.
I have one bit of advice for Clearwater: Stop paying consultants and start using common sense. Movie theaters are wonderful; everyone loves them. But would you put one on a waterfront site with a priceless view? I think not!
Downtown hotels are wonderful. They draw out-of-town guests to shop in your stores and eat in your restaurants. Would you tear down a convention center, which any downtown hotel needs to survive? Ridiculous!
When convention centers are being built or expanded all around the country to create economic development and impact, it makes me wonder who the city government is listening to. Spend $15-million to build a convention center and turn it into a movie theater five years later when it has become successful? Any business takes time to be successful. Will you tear the theater down in five years and make it into something as equally ridiculous for waterfront property?
Stop paying high-priced consultants who don't live in the city of Clearwater and start using plain, old common sense. I'm just waiting for the article telling us that they've decided to put another roundabout in downtown.
Plan could help seniors find entertainment closer to home
I am an escort and organizer taking seniors on trips from my church and also the mobile home park where I live. Over the years I have taken my groups out of Clearwater because there isn't enough here for their interests.
I did write to the previous city manager with the same suggestion that is on the table now: to do something with our waterfront similar to what other cities have done. Three cheers for the wonderful plan. I sure hope this plan, in its entirety, will be approved by the citizens of Clearwater.
Politicians' fate directly linked to bayfront's future
Our Clearwater city commissioners have many things to do, but if they let the bayfront disappear, I feel sure that they will, too.
Naysayers need to come up with real issues or keep quiet
This past February the citizens of Clearwater voted to allow George de Guardiola and David Frisbie a chance to show us how our downtown can be redeveloped to be not only livable but also a profitable tax base for the city.
This company went above and beyond the call of duty to get the public's input and ideas. They also went out of their way to keep the commissioners, mayor and city manager informed as to what the people wanted and what it was possible for them to do. I'm sure any person who has lived in Clearwater for longer than a year or two knows that downtown Clearwater is dead and has been in dire need of redevelopment for many years.
However, as with every kind of redevelopment plan, there are always naysayers. They say there are things in the contract that are not clear. I had real concerns before I listened to the mayor's explanation as to the cost of Harborview Center and the fact that it runs in the red most of the time.
The naysayers need to either come up with something concrete that's wrong or illegal about this project or stop objecting to a chance for Clearwater to finally be a self-sufficient city. If these people have real concerns, then they should hire their own lawyer to look over the contracts.
Clearwater can be a beautiful and livable place if we all work together and vote yes on July 11.
Proposal would harm taxpayers while lining developer's pocket
This is to inform readers that they are under an incredible illusion if they think that any developer will pour hundreds of millions of dollars into redevelopment at no cost to Clearwater taxpayers.
Although neither your newspaper nor the government of Clearwater ever publishes the whole story about downtown redevelopment, it is apparent from reading bits and pieces that the city of Clearwater is giving the developer some of the most valuable land in Florida. It should be clear to anyone that granting a 99-year lease to a private entity for $1 a year is a gift.
Furthermore, my understanding is that Clearwater will spend more millions of dollars for aesthetic improvements to the downtown area as a necessary inducement to the developer. That is clearly a taxpayer investment in the developer's project.
The economic lesson that should be applied is if the developer cannot accomplish the project and make a profit, then it should not be done. The developer should not profit on the backs of the Clearwater taxpayers.
Finally, let's spend the money on projects that will directly benefit the citizens of Clearwater, like community centers and recreation programs where they are desperately needed. Saying that fancy shops and high-priced apartments downtown will help the citizens of Clearwater is a farce.
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