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    Letters to the Editors

    Scientologists not to blame for problems downtown

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published September 4, 2001

    Re: Scientologists impede redevelopment, letter, Aug. 6.

    The letter writer likens the presence of Scientologists in downtown Clearwater to "a 500-pound gorilla sitting in the living room." To pursue the writer's metaphor, I would say, "Yep, you're right. He's sure enough big, but he's there."

    And then I would point out that if the gorilla had been causing any trouble, someone would have called the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Humane Society or the police.

    These, it seems to me, are the fundamental realities: (1) the Scientologists are present, and (2) they are not breaking the law.

    The writer is critical of local politicians and the Chamber of Commerce for failing "to deal with a daily parade of uniformed cult members." With all due respect to the writer, and reluctant as I am to defend any politicians or special interest groups, what would the writer have those people do about the "parades?" In the absence of violations of the law, people are free to walk where they wish and be dressed in whatever manner they choose.

    Like the writer, I have lived in Clearwater for nearly 40 years and I, too, have seen proposal after proposal for downtown redevelopment come and go. And again, like the writer, I have no confidence that the current redevelopment group will have any success. But I do not share his conclusion "that there is no solution."

    Downtown will recover when there are reasons for people to be there -- restaurants and shops, entertainment and parking garages -- and when we have learned to be tolerant of the 500-pound gorilla . . . and when the gorilla takes off his costume and reveals that he's just another guy trying to find his way.
    -- Joe Dunlap, Clearwater

    Give the Scientologists downtown, build elsewhere

    Re: Building boom expands lodging for Scientology, story, Aug. 14.

    If you didn't know that Scientology has taken over downtown Clearwater, you do now. The only ones who continue to build are the cult: 565 hotel rooms in or near downtown to accommodate 1,300 "parishioners" per week. Then the $50-million Flag building will be finished in 2003 so that more victims from around the world can invade our county.

    Now, of course, the cult is eager to see downtown improvements move forward because they will be the only ones to benefit from it.

    One letter writer asks, "Can you possibly imagine what downtown Clearwater would look like if the cult had not arrived?" Yes, it could have looked like downtown Dunedin with nice new stores and lots of visitors instead of people avoiding it like the plague as it is now.

    I say pick a new area for renovation in Clearwater. Put a wall around the old downtown and let the cult have it. They do already anyway. Put the taxpayers' money for renovation into this new area and give the citizens of Clearwater something to be proud of once again.
    -- David Rodman, Dunedin

    New bridge should be built to the north of existing one

    Why would it not be feasible to build the new Memorial Causeway Bridge to the north side of the existing bridge? It would take it farther away from the existing buildings to the south and would not affect anyone to the north, as that is open water.

    I also think that the approach ramp should follow the existing street and start curving just south of Cleveland Street to connect with the bridge. I live to the south and am looking forward to having a view of the new bridge, which is so architecturally beautiful. I have been waiting for a long time for the city to tear down that old, ugly, archaic bridge.

    I understand that by building the bridge to the north side, it might possibly save the city $2-million. I think all the taxpayers in Clearwater would appreciate saving that amount of money. With the property values going up at Pierce 100, the city probably realizes about $2,500 to $3,000 per year from each of the 114 units. Don't you think they should be shown some consideration?

    Please, Mayor Brian Aungst, City Manager Bill Horne and city commissioners, reconsider locating the new bridge to the north side of the existing bridge.
    -- Cletia Karns, Clearwater

    Before raising fees, give us the services we pay for

    I moved to Drew Street in Clearwater 24 years ago. At least once a month, the street sweeper used to clean the street. I haven't seen one in the last 10 years.

    The street department used to come by on a regular basis and clean the debris off the grating covering the street drain. I haven't seen them in the same period of time.

    So I go out once a month with a shovel and clean the grating so the water can run off properly; therefore, I have no buildup in front of my property and no flooding problems.

    My yard is no bigger than a lot of property in Clearwater, but because I have a duplex, I have to pay double for runoff. Nothing runs off my property, as the grass needs the water badly. Now the city wants to add more charges to my utility bill.

    I was under the impression that we pay taxes for services rendered. What happened to the services that we used to get?
    -- Louise C. Riley, Clearwater

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