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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Clearwater Beach: Too crowded or just right?



CLEARWATER­­­­­‑ Clearwater Beach is either in danger of becoming as clogged as Manhattan or is hitting on all cylinders.

It all depends on which City Council member is talking.

For Vice-Mayor Paul Gibson and Mayor George Cretekos, who live on or near the beach, the gorgeous sightlines are becoming as endangered as sea turtles and the beach becoming chock-block full of chunky hotels and bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Council members Jay Polglaze and Doreen Hock-DiPolito see things differently.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, sums up their position.

At issue is the city’s Beach By Design development plan, which is more than a decade old.

City planners asked council members at a Monday work session for input on whether the plan needs to be tweaked or overhauled.

The plan calls for mid-priced hotels to be built on small parcels to make up for the loss of rooms to condos in the past decade.

Despite adding 621 hotel rooms since 2002, the beach is still down 405 rooms from the same year.

Still, more rooms could lead to worse traffic and fewer parking spaces. Cretekos and Gibson said tweaking the plan should be on the table.

“Even the Constitution has been changed,” Cretekos said.

The economic boom on the beach isn’t something to mess with, Hock-DiPolito said.

“It’s working,” she said.

After a long discussion, the council directed staff to gather specific ideas from each of them to determine which areas of the beach might need code changes.


[Last modified: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 4:11pm]


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