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    Letters to the Editors

    Residents should welcome law officers at festivals, concerts

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 2, 2000

    Re: Police presence draws criticism, letter, Oct. 26.

    I beg to differ with the letter writer who was upset by the police presence at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday.

    Law-abiding citizens should have nothing to fear and should be comforted by police protection.

    How many times have we seen concerts, parades and peaceful protests turn violently ugly by rowdies and thugs using drugs and alcohol?

    Kudos to Chief Sid Klein for choosing to be safe rather than sorry.

    I would be happier with more police patrols on U.S. 19 and McMullen-Booth Road to keep an eye on speeders, weavers and road-ragers.

    I know lives would be saved.
    -- George Zitwer, Clearwater

    Officers needed at large events

    A recent letter complained of excessive police presence and diligence in checking packages at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday.

    These events are free. Drinks and food are not allowed in from the outside so that some of the expense can be offset by vendors who sell food and drinks.

    Most importantly, with huge crowds of up to 12,000 or more, 32 police officers are most needed. I note that letters to the editor are not complaining of public disorders, fights, drunks, etc.

    Great job by the city Parks Department for the events and our public safety officers who are carrying out orders.

    Keep up the good work!
    -- Edward Quinones, chairman Alex Emmanuelli, executive director, Uno Federation Community Services Inc., Clearwater

    Dunedin, Blue Jays reach agreement

    After several months of negotiation, the city of Dunedin and the Toronto Blue Jays reached an agreement that will keep the team in Dunedin for at least another 15 years.

    The spring training contract that was signed by the ball club in early October and approved by the City Commission on Oct. 19 provides for a 15-year base term with two five-year renewal options.

    It is contingent on the construction of a new training complex and renovations to the existing Dunedin stadium -- a two-part project with an estimated cost not to exceed $12-million.

    Funding for the construction will come from three sources: $3-million from the city and the Blue Jays, $3-million from Pinellas County and $6-million from the state of Florida under a new program sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by the governor in May.

    Under the terms of the contract, the Blue Jays will be responsible for all maintenance of the facilities, which is a significant cost savings to the city.

    The city will receive a yearly payment of $125,000, as well as a percentage of ticket sales, a 50-cent-per-person concession surcharge, and one-third of the revenue from any naming rights that may be sold to the stadium. The city will pay the debt service, insurance, a portion of property tax, etc. The city will also operate and retain all the revenues from off-site parking during spring training games.

    The Blue Jays have committed to conducting a campaign to increase attendance and have recently advertised to hire a Dunedin-based marketing director for that purpose.

    City and Blue Jays staff began weekly meetings on Oct. 19 to get the design, bid and construction project under way.

    The city will be notified on the availability of our state funding on Jan. 2, and construction will begin as soon as possible after that date with a "blackout" period at Dunedin Stadium to allow spring training games to be played.

    The estimated completion date for the entire project is Jan. 31, 2002.

    I want to encourage everyone to support our Blue Jays. Come on out to the games and see "Casey's Revenge."
    -- Tom Anderson, mayor, Dunedin

    Sidewalks fine -- until "repairs'

    I wonder who, in city or county government, is responsible for the boondoggle of sidewalk repair along Union Street in Clearwater between Highland Avenue and Hercules.

    Sidewalks on both sides of Union Street have been torn up simultaneously, and there really isn't room to walk safely along the side of the road.

    Besides, to this ordinary citizen, the portions of sidewalk being replaced looked perfectly useable. Perhaps a reporter ought to look into the possibility of unnecessary expenditure of public funds.
    William J. Schlicht Jr., Clearwater

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