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Agent will seek land for beach parking garage

CLEARWATER — If you own commercial property along Clearwater Beach, expect Mark Searcy at your door.

The Chase Real Estate agent and the firm were tapped by Clearwater officials Thursday to help assemble enough property to build the long-discussed parking garage the beach desperately needs.

"I just bought a brand new pair of tennis shoes, and I'm going to visit every owner and ask them: 'How are you doing, would you like to sell your land to the city, and how much?' " said Searcy, 47.

The City Council unanimously agreed to let Chase Real Estate, a beach firm, act as its broker in finding at least an acre of south beach property to build a 300-space garage. The firm was selected from six contenders that sought the contract the council issued in March.

Mike Donila, Times staff writer

Merchants protest Scientology protesters

CLEARWATER — About three dozen downtown business owners are upset with a group of anti-Scientology protesters and want the City Council to do something about them.

But city leaders Tuesday said there's little they can do.

"Suspending the First Amendment is something we shouldn't spend a whole lot of time on," council member Paul Gibson said.

The loosely organized group Anonymous has held several recent demonstrations against the Church of Scientology. Many Cleveland Street businesses say the masked protesters and the constant chanting have begun to take a toll.

They say the monthly demonstrations are turning away customers and ruining the overall ambiance of a downtown that city leaders have spent years trying to revitalize. And, they say, the protesters are scaring people away.

A petition signed by 34 merchants and two residents asked the council for "assistance in this matter."

Mike Donila, Times staff writer

Neighbor honored for help in dousing fire

PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor Fire Rescue this week recognized resident Ken VanStedum for his quick thinking when a kitchen fire started at his neighbor's house on May 3. The fire began when a young boy and his friend decided to boil water for noodles and left the pot on the stove unattended, officials said. The water evaporated and a small fire broke out. The boy ran to VanStedum's home for help. VanStedum told his wife to call 911, grabbed a fire extinguisher, put the fire out and started opening windows and doors to ventilate the home. He was honored Wednesday night by the Palm Harbor Fire Rescue Commission.

Times staff

Agent will seek land for beach parking garage 05/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 19, 2008 1:04pm]
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