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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scientologists offer parking options for Clearwater aquarium

CLEARWATER---The Church of Scientology recently suggested to the city that property near the Bank of America building downtown could be a good location for a parking garage.

The city and Clearwater Marine Aquarium beg to differ.

For months, the city and church have sparred over the location for a parking garage to service an influx of tourists to CMA’s planned aquarium on the waterfront site where City Hall now stands.

The city wants a church-owned property at N Osceola Avenue and Drew Street.

No dice, church officials said.

The city then floated building a massive, possibly 1,000-car, garage near signature church properties, the Flag Building and the Oak Cove building.

The church has communicated to the city that it isn’t happy with those options.

So church leader David Miscavige directed his team to provide alternate sites, according to city officials.

Last week, a church representative provided City Manager Bill Horne with a map of possible sites across the street from the Bank of America building.

Horne said Wednesday that the city will keep talking with the church, but officials consider the properties between Cleveland and Drew Streets, bounded by Watterson and N Garden Avenues, to be too far from the planned aquarium.

The church didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Frank Hibbard, CMA board member and former mayor, said the aquarium wouldn’t have any interest in those properties.

“That site is not a good one, you would have to cross Fort Harrison, then walk three blocks south,” Hibbard said.

Daniels Ikajevs, who bought the Bank of America building last year and owns several of the lots under question said the church had talked with him.

“I’m willing to extend my full cooperation to find the best parking solution,” Ikajevs said.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2014 6:38pm]


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