A city divided
By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times,
How lucky I was to grow up in a city where others came for a vacation. My family loved everything about the beach. We went fishing, boating and swimming. We drank fresh orange juice like water. Many hours of my teenage years were spent dancing at the municipal auditorium. My six children have different but great memories of growing up in Clearwater. We will cherish the memories forever.
-- Kathy Barber-Daily
I think of a city that had a gift from God, that being Clearwater Beach, and in the name of progress, with hasty decisions and complete mismanagement, Clearwater has, and still is, destroying that gift. Clearwater, I love ya. I have watched you do a lot of wonderful things elsewhere in your city, but when it comes to going to the beach, you can find me at Dunedin Causeway.
-- Jack Coudoux
I think of the sugar-white sand, salty scent of the gulf, sound of seagulls. But most of all, I think of my mom, who has been missing for nearly 10 years and loved the beaches here as much as I do now.
-- Rachael Aurora Cathcart
I think of a beautiful city, considering the needs of all. The prettiest beach, friendly folks, all the great events (many freebies) and, yes, a lovely roundabout, though a few don't follow directions, then complain!
-- Betty J. Bennett
I think of Nazi Germany. The cult of Scientology displays its conformist order in downtown. They have gained the exclusive support from both the police and local politicians, just like the Nazis did in Germany over 60 years ago.
-- Andreas R. Pohlmann
Moving out from your parents' place for the first time may be exciting, but it sure is one nervous experience. What a smart choice it was in May to make Clearwater home. My cozy apartment downtown couldn't be located in a more central location. Right across the street from the Gulf of Mexico and only five minutes from Pinellas County's most popular beach, I'm left in awe that my decision to choose this wonderful place to start my young independence has brought me so much happiness.
-- Diana Kiesylis, 18
I think of beautiful beaches, where turtles lay their eggs, where people enjoy the sun and the sea, where palm trees sway in carefree breezes. When I think of Clearwater, I think of home, because that's where I'm so lucky to live.
-- Elizabeth P. Florko
I think of a city that continually misses the mark. It always seems to be a "day late and a dollar short" in its thinking. While the commissioners and manager should be concentrating on making Clearwater a great place to live, they are instead trying to make it a destination of visitors. Don't they realize that by making it a great place to live, it will naturally be a great place to visit?
-- Carol Elwood
It is our beaches that are our main attraction. Tourism is our livelihood for many. Our city is surrounded by this "Clearwater-Water." I've lived here for 37 years, and I love it.
-- Mary Greaney
I have sweet thoughts of growing up in Clearwater in the '60s. Saturday matinee movies at the Ritz and Capitol theaters and malted milk shakes at Brown Bros. soda shop. Terrific place, but that was then. Clearwater is over! It's now the mysterious planet Sci-Fi. Run for your lives!
-- Tony Blue
It's not the nice little sweet beach town it was 32 years ago. We arrived, built on a beautiful deep lake -- fish, sailboats coming. Now, what a mess the city will not clean. They don't care about beautiful lakes, (which) should be a priority to make Clearwater sparkling.
-- Jack Cox
Clearwater is one of the most beautiful cities I have lived in. The accessible blue water, the constant greenery as far as the eye can see, the ever-changing weather are hard to beat. After relocating here from Washington, D.C., I am still impressed by the friendliness of most people and the majority who are sincerely interested in constantly improving and making Clearwater wonderfully livable and a jewel to its residents as well as to tourists.
-- Joyce E. Martin
I think of a place I now call home. A place filled with many friends. People who make up a caring community. A community made up of many cultures and a beach that is one of the finest in the world.
-- Anne Green
I think of: home. Clearwater has magic and beauty. It has diversity -- in people, things to do, places to live and places to worship. Clearwater is unique -- a great place to hang your hat, whatever the style. Clearwater is where I want to be -- home!
-- Janet Ladd
Blue-green water, fine white sand
Swaying palms and sea oats,
An aquarium showcasing tide pools,
Gigantic sea turtles
Coachman Park's lure of Concerts and artwork
Druid's castles and
A Monumental courthouse,
The infamous roundabout,
A glowing array of T-shirt shops for College sun worshipers at spring break.
-- Dawn M. Hurley
I think of the beautiful seaside community my parents chose for their retirement home 29 years ago. My, how his city has changed. We have the Church of Scientology as our downtown host. We have the infamous roundabout. (And) those of us who live in the Hobart Lake area share stories of broken promises by city officials for traffic calming, attention to our diminishing lake and replacement of broken storm-drain pipes and water pipes that provide us with inferior water pressure.
-- Charlene Comeau
Clearwater, a place with a roundabout most people didn't want and people on Clearwater Beach want it for themselves. Where the mayor and commissioners find money for projects that people DON'T want but none to make neighborhoods and roads safe. A place that has water restrictions but won't stop building.
-- Sharon Hodges
When I think of Clearwater, I think of home, a place cozy enough to be my neighborhood, yet busy enough to be entertaining. The beach, the pier festival, the jazz festival, the shopping and the dining. We have it all. Our own little piece of paradise. Thanks, Clearwater.
-- Tammy Diaz
Love Clearwater, hate Hubbardsville!!! Clearwater should move its government offices to Countryside, leaving the government offices of Hubbardsville intact.
-- Bill Toth
Seen from Sand Key, Clearwater is the beautiful city on the bluffs, where some have a different view of the key. Let them look again: Gorgeous gulfscapes and panoramas from Clearwater Pass Bridge, Sand Key Park, harborside beach and Community Sailing Center. Sand Key, too, is beautiful to behold!
-- George E. Bentley
I think of tropical breezes blowing, along with the rustling sound of palm trees. The warm white sand on the beach, like a soft cushion under my feet. Ripples of waves gently rolling in and leaving tiny shells scattered along our shore.
-- Lynda Wilkinson
When I think of Clearwater, I think of exactly that: our clean and clear water of the gulf, wide and white sand of the beaches. . . . I think of seafood, sunsets and jazz . . . also 20 wonderful years of vacationlike living (no offense meant, New Jersey) . . . avid travelers but always happy to come home to Clearwater.
-- Maureen Donovan
I think of sunshine and hot weather, nice clean neighborhoods, crowded beaches, tourists, congested roadways, U.S. 19, the roundabout, the Phillies and Scientology, Scientology and more Scientology. With an emphasis on Scientology.
-- James Devine
All the potential the city has is wasted by the intolerance and snobbery. The snobbery of the so-called "beach elite" who don't seem to mind the overgrown, over-neoned, tackiness that "their" beach has become. The intolerance of the "other" religious cults in town who insist on demonizing the Scientologists.
-- Carole Youds-Sieben
I think of Coachman Park. My husband and I have enjoyed many memorable events, since one of our first dates at the Clearwater Jazz Festival in 1993. We also look forward to the Fourth of July celebration every year, which has such wonderful entertainment.
-- Judi Honiker
I think of:
1. U.S. 19: The roadway that never ceases to get worse. And it will.
2. Roberto's Revenge: The $10,000,000 roundabout boondoggle gateway to Clearwater Beach. A testament to stupidity.
3. A Dynasty Downtown: The indelible, inescapable image of Clearwater as the uncontested, undisputed worldwide home of Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard displaces Elvis.
-- Robert G. Walker
When I think of Clearwater I think of:
Cold beer and tan lines.
Grilling out on hot August days.
Sunscreen, sand and seashells.
Tourists on WaveRunners.
Trolley stops along Gulf Boulevard.
Mandarin skies with lavender lining at sunset and waking up to see it all again the next day.
-- Kristi Cottier
Nearly 20 years ago, Stephanie and I decided to live at Clearwater Beach, and the decision is justified every day. Clearwater's city services and facilities are top-notch, and our Gulf Beach is among the best in the world. To read the daily paper you might wonder about it, but it is a great place to live.
-- John Doran
I remember how lucky I was to have lived there from 1958 to 1993. There cannot be a better place in this country to have been. Clearwater is where I met, fell in love with and married my wife, who has strengthened me for almost 33 years. No place will ever replace Clearwater.
-- Joe Elliott, Birmingham, Ala.
Sparkling Clearwater is a wonderful place to live. Forget the traffic; forget the congestion. It may take a little effort to get there, but we're blessed to have the opportunity to walk on the beach, listen to the waves, feel the breeze, laugh at the birds and every evening watch God paint a different sky over the gulf.
-- Doug Methvin
I remember 21 years ago when I first came to interview for a job. I was taken to the beach and, at the end of the causeway, was sure I had found a little piece of heaven. There was a fantastic view of a fabulous beach and the glorious Gulf of Mexico! Now, I can think only of arriving at the beach to first view a hideous mountain of ugly concrete. I think that the real natural beauty of the beach and water is being turned into a poor man's Disney World of plastic and concrete. So sad!
-- Kyle Barnes
I moved to downtown Clearwater four months ago. I have discovered the sights and sounds of this part of town. Walking has helped me appreciate the post office, library, department stores, churches, shops and Pinellas Trail. The sound of the train coming through town must thrill the children. Many buildings have painted their walls with colorful pictures of flowers, fish and street scenes. Downtown is alive and has a future.
-- Pauline M. Turner
My mother dropping my grandmother and me off in front of McCrory's every Saturday morning while she went grocery shopping. Going across the street to the bakery for a dozen honey dipped donuts. Having weenie roasts on the south end of the beach. Going to the senior prom at the Fort Harrison Hotel. Going to all the holiday parades. Clearwater was a fun place to go for a girl who lived in small-town Palm Harbor.
-- Sandy Malone
I think of . . . my third hometown, which is a great one. It has a variety of things to do: from sandy beaches with sunsets to hunger-quenching, delicious restaurants. It's also a place that has given me a great education through Clearwater High and Oak Grove Middle Schools.
-- Mandy Gorka
Clearwater is synonymous with a safe place to raise one's children, a beautiful beach, excellent schools, a great mall (Countryside), a central location to many sporting events and friendly neighbors. A sense of community exists in Clearwater. My family is happy here; this is home.
-- Rachel Murray
We, as residents, are truly blessed to live in paradise! This is a beautiful city that we enjoy 365 days a year; tourists enjoy for only a short time and then return home dreaming of all we have. As residents, we have already won the lottery, just by the privilege of calling Clearwater home.
-- Lisa Hagerman
I think of Cleveland Avenue and the annual daylight parade, when bands marched and Phillies rode in open convertibles. Seems like the whole city stood smiling and cheering. There were few, if any, empty storefronts downtown. Sadly, I think our city will never be the same.
-- Roy Sundelius
No town is perfect, but if we choose to live here, we should try to improve what we have. The majority of the homes are in good condition. We have plenty of churches, so everyone can worship where they please. We have plenty of good schools and recreation facilities. This is our home, and we should all work to make it a better place. Nothing gets done if all we do is complainand never lift a finger to help improve things.
-- Fran Glaros
I think of what was a sparkling clean city, white sandy beaches, families picnicking, children playing in the surf. What I now see is a city invaded by greedy politicians, merchants and developers who have stolen that paradise.
-- Robert L. Smalley
While Clearwater and its beach hope for economic redevelopment, this writer hopes for the same thing for herself. As a visitor hoping to relocate here, being unemployed and homeless has become a way of life because jobs seem hard to acquire. Just as Clearwater hopes, I do, too.
-- Debra J. Miller
C lean, graffiti is not on our landscape
L ove is encouraged with beach sunsets
E veryone is friendly
A rea where every day is casual Friday
R ecreation centers, bike trails, swimming, etc.
W inter is a time when we don't use the pool
A place where you can wear shorts year-round
T heater and the arts encouraged
E vents at Coachman Park
R esiding in Clearwater is like preparation for heaven
-- John Wiser
I think of Clearwater's beautiful beach, great sunsets, many friends and family, concerts in Coachman Park, short walk for refreshments in Station Square Park under the shade trees. I live in the tallest building in downtown with a beautiful view day or night. I wouldn't live anywhere else.
-- Shirley Martinez
I think about how great a place it was 10 years ago. There was no roundabout at the beach and there was a toll bridge to Sand Key. Taxes were less, but city services were provided at less cost so there was always plenty of money in the treasury. The city manager was paid less than $100,000 a year, and you rarely ever even saw her name in the paper. So when I think of Clearwater, I agree with the gentleman who wrote in that he liked Largo because it wasn't Clearwater.
-- Bob Coffey
I think of the waterfront park given the citizens by the Coachman pioneer family -- which is so frequently fenced for "events," paid entrance only and no family picnic food or drink allowed. Community entitlement sacrificed for commercial gain.
-- Rhoda L. Tritschler
Clearwater to me is the best and most beautiful place in the world to live. I think of sparkling blue water, beautiful sunsets, wonderful walks on the beach. On Aug. 18, I will have lived here 35 years. Much to my joy, downtown Clearwater, where it's all happening, is my home now.
-- Cleita Karns
I'd like to think of beaches, jazz, the parks and baseball. It would be nice to think of the good schools, people, festivals and fun and also the parks and golf and boating in the sun. But alas. Although it is not anyone's fault, all we can think of any more is the CULT.
-- David Rodman
I think of Cove Cay and CONTENTMENT. As a transplanted New Yorker, I moved here for health reasons. Determined never to look back, I found there was no time for looking back!!! In this friendly atmosphere, offering every imaginable activity for young and old, one truly appreciates the joie de vivre.
-- Barbara Forrest
I think of paradise because Clearwater has got it all: sandy beaches, beautiful water, sunny warm weather, excellent restaurants and friendly people. Every day in Clearwater is another day in paradise.
-- Ron Wenn
We think of the many wonderful people who work hard behind the scenes every day to make this the beautiful, clean and safe city that it is. We feel very blessed to live in a city that has such dedicated and caring people working together. The people of Clearwater are the true heart of the city.
-- The Aungst Family, Brian, Karen & Brian Jr.
In one day you could visit beautiful Clearwater or Sand Key beaches, take a hike on a nature trail at Moccasin Lake Park, go on a shopping spree at the enormous Countryside Mall or take a stroll through quaint downtown Clearwater. This city has plenty to offer in the way of engaging activities, whether they be indoor or outdoor excursions.
-- Caroline Whiteley
Dec. 27, 1964, when my wife and I arrived in Clearwater to a new city, new county and a new state to make this our home, a place we had selected to live as a result of being transferred by my company to a new position to work in Tampa. YES, Tampa to work, but Clearwater to live. I have never forgotten that day, and, over the years, we know we made the right decision. To this day, no regrets.
-- J.B. Johnson
Thirty years ago, driving on U.S. 19 was a pleasure. When you could go to the beach on Sand Key and park your car under the pine trees. When people visioned an area within Clearwater called Countryside. When taking visitors to the Kapok Tree Restaurant was a must!
-- Pat De Biase
To me, Clearwater was a potential paradise when I moved here 20 years ago . . . beautiful beach, knock-out sunsets, warm people and a small-town feeling all over. But no more. Today, Clearwater is a paradise lost. Lost to overbuilding, traffic congestion, air and noise pollution . . . all in the name of progress.
-- Fred Nassif
The first thought that comes to mind is the uneasy feeling of being held up in traffic downtown, watching in disbelief as the mob of drones (some in rank), ignoring the traffic signals, rush across the street to catch their next "Mind Meter Reading Session." Instead of dealing with this "religion" draining the city's tax base, the elected chose such diversions like Harborview Center, roundabout and the library.
-- Lyndee Dolan
I think of the Clearwater Public Library System, an outstanding asset. Its staff, volunteers of all ages and patrons have educated and befriended me. Thank you. The library will always do its best to serve the public. May it always receive the support it will surely merit.
-- Mary Moore Boulay
I love Clearwater Beach, but there is nothing to do but beach and eat. When it rains, there is nothing to do. We need an entertainment center, movie theater, bowling alley, and dancing would be fun. The Memorial Causeway is always breaking; that needs to be replaced. Downtown has nothing to offer anyone but the religious groups that are located there.
-- Alice Lipscomb
I think of white sandy beaches and tikki bars, boats and beach floats. . . . I think of the sunrise at the causeway and manatees in the bay. I think of Jet Skis, sand skim boards and hot sunny days. I think of pirate ships, and catamarans, with dolphins leading the way to the sunset and the end of the day.
-- Leanne Doerner
A small town with growing pains. It always will be small because it has no more room. Clearwater is torn by those who favor small-town atmosphere and some who say it's old and wish to remake it overnight. It must always be Clearwater, even with change.
-- Dennis Roper
My family moved to Clearwater almost 10 years ago. We like this area, as it is convenient to north and south county, and Tampa. And of course Clearwater Beach, which is a beautiful sight. There is a wonderful library system. However, since we live here, the talk and mismanagement on downtown redevelopment, with nothing much to show for it, is frustrating.
-- Harriet Starr
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