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    Beach resident fills city position

    Dentist F. David Hemerick is named to a vacant position on the City Commission.

    By CHRISTINA HEADRICK

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 5, 2000


    CLEARWATER -- The City Commission unanimously appointed Clearwater native F. David Hemerick, a local dentist and beach resident, to fill the seat vacated by Ed Hooper until March.

    Hemerick, 55, who was seeing patients as the commission debated his appointment at a special meeting Monday, said he'll serve "with due diligence" at least for a few months. His first big task, he said, will be to brush up on the details of several beach redevelopment proposals under debate.

    "There's so many things happening that I've really got a lot of homework to do," Hemerick said. "I think the next couple of months are going to be really important for the city."

    In March, Hemerick will step down and Clearwater voters will elect someone to serve the remaining year of Hooper's term. Hooper had to resign his seat effective Nov. 7 as part of his unsuccessful bid for the Florida Legislature earlier this year.

    Hemerick's appointment caps a few weeks of sniping among commissioners about whether they had to fill the vacant seat. The city charter states "a vacancy on the commission should be filled by majority vote of the remaining . . . members within 30 days."

    But if the commission cannot agree on an appointment, the charter states it can wait until an election.

    Commissioner Bob Clark and Mayor Brian Aungst supported reappointing Hooper to the commission until March.

    But Commissioners Ed Hart and J.B. Johnson did not feel obligated to appoint anyone to the seat. That would have left the commission with the possibility of 2-to-2 deadlocks until March elections.

    Monday, the commission again failed to decide whether to appoint Hooper. Then Aungst, chiding his colleagues for not making a "good-faith effort" to appoint someone, nominated Hemerick.

    Hart hesitated but then voted yes, joining Aungst and Clark to make the appointment.

    Johnson first voted against Hemerick's appointment but changed his vote to make the appointment unanimous.

    Hart said Hemerick would do a good job.

    "David is a person who is involved on the beach, who can be a neutral force and who is an intelligent individual who can look at issues in a fair way," Hart said. "He has no hidden agenda or vested interest in anything."

    Hemerick lives on Devon Drive, just south of the beach roundabout, and he occasionally writes to the city about neighborhood issues. He has served on two city advisory groups, the Marine Advisory Board and a committee reviewing improvements to the beach roundabout.

    Born and raised in Clearwater, Hemerick attended Clearwater High School with Clark. He has been practicing dentistry here since 1971, in addition to belonging to Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church and Rotary Club of Clearwater.

    In other business Monday, the City Commission decided to postpone entering into a neighborhood dispute about a proposed office complex near the Bayside Bridge on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. Instead, commissioners sent a request to rezone the property back to the city's Community Development Board for debate before commissioners consider it.

    The City Commission also reviewed a scaled-back proposal to change parking rates at the beach and downtown parking, which would be effective in January. The commission still has a few questions before giving the new rates their blessing.

    After some revisions, beach employees, who now pay $15 monthly for permits, would be charged $30 monthly to park in city lots, except for in March and April, when they would pay $50. City residents, who can now pay $25 for beach parking permits, would see their rates go to $40.

    Finally, Hart reported that a committee of residents reviewing improvements to the beach roundabout won't be able to finish its task this year, largely because the city delayed in providing the group with cost estimates for potential alterations to the oval roadway.

    The committee expects to present recommendations to the commission by February, so major changes won't be made to the roundabout until after spring break.

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