© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000
Our recent experience may help explain why Tarpon Springs is having trouble attracting tourists.
Two weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon, my wife and I felt like getting out of Palm Harbor. We drove to Tarpon Springs and parked -- no mean feat since the business owners of Tarpon seem so consumed with getting a $2 parking fee that they are missing the bigger picture.
We went to Santorini's and sat outside at the back, overlooking the water. Quite delightful, reminded us of Europe. It was about 2.30 p.m., and we fancied a cappuccino and dessert. After a 45-minute wait we were told the cappuccino machine had broken. We left.
Next stop was Hellas Famous Greek Restaurant and Bakery. We sat outside on the patio and were ignored for quite a while. By now it's 3 o'clock and we are the only people sitting outside. The waiter gets to us and we order two cappuccinos and two desserts.
"Sorry," says the surly waiter, "you can't sit out here and just have coffee and dessert, you'll have to go inside."
"Quite understandable," I said sarcastically, "I can see how busy you are."
Imagine being kicked out of a cafe in Europe because all you want is coffee and dessert. There'd be another French Revolution. We left.
Clearly, the problem with Tarpon Springs is that it is too successful. One restaurant is passing up all those $3 cappuccinos because its machine doesn't work and the other place is passing up a lot of $15 coffee and dessert orders because the patrons won't sit where they're told to.
And the tourists, they're hanging on to their wallets pretty tightly after being nailed $2 to $5 to park on a construction site. I've had better treatment in Paris.
We bought two cappuccinos from an ice cream shop, two pastries from a bakery and drove to Howard Park.
-- Peter McDonald, Palm Harbor
It was reassuring to see the majority of the Dunedin City Commission express confidence in Commissioner Cecil Englebert with regard to keeping the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin.
In spite of one former commissioner's negative attack on Englebert during the public comment portion of the July 6 meeting, and an apparent attempt by one of our elected officials to take political potshots at Englebert, the rest of the commissioners rallied to defend his efforts on behalf of the city.
Englebert has worked for the residents of Dunedin for many years, both as a commissioner and as mayor.
It was refreshing to see the majority of the commission stay focused on the issue of getting a contract with the Blue Jays that is mutually beneficial to the city and the Jays. By not stooping to the level of those who attempted to divert the commission's attention from the serious matter at hand, Englebert demonstrated his ability to work for Dunedin in a professional manner while ignoring the attempts of a few people trying to discredit him.
If there are some officials in Dunedin who don't want the Blue Jays to stay, why don't they have the courage to publicly admit that instead of making personal attacks on someone who has done so much for the residents of Dunedin?
Thank you, Cecil, and don't let them sway you in your efforts to do what is best for Dunedin.
-- Bill Douglas, Dunedin
Re: Resignations would best serve public, July 13 letter.
Why have our Clearwater city leaders become scapegoats for doing their jobs? As our elected body, the City Commission is responsible for taking action to improve the quality of life in Clearwater. Our city manager and other city staffers are here to resolve problems and provide a safe and vibrant community.
The redevelopment of downtown is just one example of how the commission and city manager are trying to change things for the better.
For those who believe that the mayor, commission and city manager should resign, I have an idea. In your job or profession, do what you think is right and in the best interest of those you serve. When someone comes along who does not like what you are doing, turn in your resignation.
I commend our city leaders for having the guts to take on the sensitive challenges facing our downtown. Imagine what we could accomplish if all of the energy behind the negative campaigning and criticism went into helping and supporting these leaders to make all of Clearwater an even better place to live.
-- Scott Wintrip, Clearwater
I'm 17 and was not able to vote in the July 11 Clearwater referendum on downtown redevelopment. My elderly neighbors voted no, and their vote was a vote against City Manager Mike Roberto and the Church of Scientology.
The seniors need to remember that the No. 1 resource in the world is children. A vote yes would have been a vote for the future for the children of Clearwater. I do go to movies, eat out and would have enjoyed the downtown. Two thousand people just lost potential jobs.
I would have been proud to live in Clearwater. Now I plan to move to California, where older people do care about the future of children. I hope when I retire I don't forget about the youth.
-- Adam Hattenburg, Clearwater
The voters did not reject the improvements to downtown Clearwater, we simply thought that a 99-year lease for $1 was an excessive cost for these improvements. We should go ahead with these improvements but at a reasonable cost to the taxpayers.
-- Joseph Venturo, Clearwater
It is time that someone in authority looks into the snail's pace work being done on Gulf Boulevard on Sand Key.
During a recent storm, there was no way an emergency vehicle could have gotten through due to the high water and stranded cars on that two-lane fiasco. I watch from my balcony as workers and machines stand idle.
The completion of this project is months overdue and there is no end in sight. Perhaps if the Times investigated this matter, some progress might be made.
-- Helene Roberts, Clearwater
Last time I checked, the founding fathers of the United States of America wrote that, "all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights." I also remember that the Pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution.
My, how times have changed when an entire city can get away with bashing a religion. Should we rename Clearwater "New Berlin" and preach religious intolerance? Or should we call Clearwater "New Jerusalem" and start fighting among our neighbors because of different religious views?
Scientology is in Clearwater. All I can say is, so what? Mind your own business and they will mind theirs. It's not as if they are coming door to door and attempting to brainwash you.
-- John Fontana, Palm Harbor
I was pleased to see the youths cleaning up Belcher Road the other day and the volunteer sign on the truck. It shows we have so many youths who are trying to make this a better and cleaner world for all of us and that all youths are not rotten as some folks think.
However, the really sad part about this is that those same youths, if they were willing, could be doing other things, like helping tutor underachievers and volunteering in nursing homes and hospitals.
That's if we as caring adults and youth took the time to bring our trash home and not drop it wherever we happen to be.
There is absolutely no reason anyone should have to waste their time picking up after other careless people. We have become a nation of slobs and it's so sad. It only takes a moment to think about what we are doing and then take the trash home or dump it in a roadside container.
-- Fran Glaros, Clearwater