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    Letters to the Editors

    Officials need big picture view for downtown plan

    © St. Petersburg Times, published August 21, 2000


    Some Clearwater residents have stated that they like our city just the way it is. With those I would like to share an old saying my wife introduced me to many years ago: "If something does not grow, it will die."

    Our downtown remains in a long no-growth stage. Our downtown represents a large and very visible area of our city. We must not let it die.

    Many residents also feel that it is not the government's role to become involved in development. They say that is for the private sector. This is true, but sometimes an investment must be made to spark private investment that in the long run will pay for itself with an increased tax base.

    If you go to the library -- we do -- and do a little research on how other cities around this great country have resurrected their old downtowns, you will come to realize the monumental impact that an active and resident-used downtown will have for our beautiful Clearwater.

    Today we only have one major group that represents our downtown. We must change that. We must make this a place people consider moving to, a place where everyone feels comfortable and enjoys visiting. Only by attracting a diverse group of people representing various age groups can we accomplish this.

    During the past few years, my wife and I have made an effort to stay informed about our city's civic affairs. We have come to know by name, and sometimes by face, many of the longtime Clearwater residents who take active leadership in this city's civic activities. They have earned our respect as well as that of many other city residents. It is to these hard-working and active residents of this city that we address our last paragraph:

    We have opportunities before us that may never come again. Please look at the big picture. Understand that good architecture, as well as a downtown, does not stand alone. It is supported by infrastructure and facilities that cannot be designed by individual owners alone, though they must help in paying for such amenities. Standalone buildings, no matter how much they cost, will never create a usable downtown. Please use your abilities to help unite our visions now and lead us to a future downtown that we will all enjoy.
    -- Ricardo & Justine Ortega, Clearwater

    All parties need to work together for better Clearwater

    Re: Supporter of mayor undergoes a change of heart, Aug. 6 letter.

    This letter was interesting in that sometimes when people observe, their opinion can change. Thank goodness we live in America and can voice it.

    Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst has made me very pleasantly surprised as he has excelled in working with our commissioners, city manager and staff. He has shown great respect for the city of Clearwater and its residents.

    This commission has a redevelopment vision as no other commission has had. Let's put the July referendum behind us and forge ahead for the good of Clearwater and the generations to come. We all need to work together for a better Clearwater.
    -- Bob Bickerstaffe, Clearwater

    Clearwater needs to commit to defined downtown center

    Re: Slow down, take the time to rethink library project, Aug. 14 column.

    For better or worse, Clearwater has become a commuter community with no true center. In many respects it is now a place you pass through on your way to somewhere else. Path-of-least-resistance politics and cheap land have led to this malaise.

    This visionless governance ripped the heart out of downtown. In stepped the Church of Scientology. Their religion, motives and methods maybe suspect, but they have exhibited some qualities that should leave many of us feeling embarrassed. They plan for the long term, construct and remodel buildings of permanence, and they have fortitude.

    Conversely, Clearwater's three-year vision cycle is maddening and accomplishes little.

    Now the Times is suggesting that the main library might be more appropriately located in a central part of town. Where is that?

    Historically, Clearwater has built many public structures which are so tasteless they can make one nauseous. To build another ugly white box on the waterfront seems to be contradictory to saving the bayfront, and just moving the library to a more convenient location in town continues to exhibit no vision.

    If governing by poll is the only choice, then we should start with a question like: Should Clearwater have a defined city center that its residents can be proud of? If yes, then where?

    Then the community must commit to reassembling the pieces to the puzzle in one cohesive area. It may take 50 years or more to do it, but I am certain that the whole will be much greater than the sum of the parts.
    -- Roger Woodruff, Clearwater

    Outstanding volunteers pulled together softball tournament

    With many negatives being discussed about government and how it works or does not work, I thought it would be good to let you know about an outstanding group of people who pulled together in adverse circumstances and got a job done here last week.

    The Amateur Softball Association Women's Major Fastpitch National Tournament was played in Clearwater from Wednesday through Sunday. This is the oldest women's tournament in the world, having been played continuously since 1933. These teams are composed of highly skilled athletes, and it is from this division that the U.S. Olympic Team is chosen.

    The tournament consisted of 23 teams from 11 states playing 45 games at four fields during five days. The people at the Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department were incredible. They battled bad weather and kept the event going -- moving games from field to field -- rescheduling, covering and uncovering the infields and trying to keep players, coaches, fans, umpires and others happy.

    Seldom have I seen such a team effort; they just got it done. Tournament director Clara Borum, ASA Commissioner Terry Schmidt, Bill Leuders, Steve Bigley, Bob Barry, Birgitt Dowd, Pete McCaffery, Naomi Faulkner and many others pulled off a major event when things were not going well. Thirteen umpires from around the United States did a great job, too. Director Kevin Dunbar can be proud.

    Any negatives? Not with these people, but our local media all but ignored a great event. Teams came from all over the country for the first women's national tournament to be played here since 1956. They deserved better.

    Good job, Clearwater Recreation Department.
    -- Mike Moore, Seminole

    Pediatrics division still needed at Morton Plant Hospital

    Re: House makes room for hospital expansion, story, Aug. 3.

    It is of great comfort to know that the emergency room at Morton Plant Hospital will be worth over $17-million and considered state of the art. This is a long-overdue project that will enable the medical community to better meet the needs of the public.

    Morton Plant continues to grow and offers a myriad of services to the area, yet it is closing pediatrics? Where are the children to be admitted after they are seen in the emergency department? Will they be shipped to Dunedin or St. Petersburg?

    I'm sure this makes great fiscal sense, but where is the common sense?
    -- Gail S. Keeney, Clearwater

    Too many renovations needed to make Harborview into library

    I doubt that the Harborview Center could be turned into a library. The main problem is that the structural live loads associated with the stacks of books are far in excess of what an assembly structure (its current use) would be designed for. You would have to gut the entire building, then redo the entire structural system. The costs associated with renovation and structural improvements would far exceed the costs of building a new library.

    Renovation is not always the answer because buildings are designed for specific uses. The existing Harborview Center would also have an air-conditioning system far in excess of what a new library would require. Assembly structures require huge volumes of outside air changes to keep the building air healthy for the patrons.

    In addition, the electrical system probably is not designed for all the communications and electrical equipment a library requires, so it would have to be increased. The end result is a building not designed for the use intended, but one cobbled together with the best of intentions.

    If a developer is suggesting these changes, then my opinion would be that the developer does not know what he is talking about and should be avoided like the plague. This developer is likely to cost you valuable time and money.
    -- Paul Kuykendall, Belleair Bluffs

    Too much is asked of nurses for far too little money

    Re: Pay, stressful work deter many nurses, Aug. 9 letter by Robert Stegmann.

    A big thank you to Robert Stegmann. Years ago there were employees at hospitals called nurse's aides. They made beds, helped bathe the patients, helped feed the patients, brought them water, gave sponge baths and emptied bed pans. I know -- when I was a teen, I was a nurse's aide in Chicago.

    Nurses only had to concentrate on the patients, making sure each was receiving all the medical attention that would eventually allow that patient to go home. Now nurses are expected to do all of the above for a salary that is enough to make you sick. To make $5 over minimum wage and then take on the responsibility of someone's life-or-death situation, plus all of the above, is downright idiotic.

    With the shortage of nurses increasing every day, who knows? The next time you go to the hospital, your medical needs may be taken care of by a nurse's aide. I am not a nurse. If anyone out there knows what needs to be done to get this profession the salary it deserves, please write in and let us know.
    -- Nina Clark, Tarpon Springs

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