Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Judge throws out lawsuit seeking to stop downtown Clearwater aquarium

CLEARWATER — A judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed by two residents that sought to derail the results of a Nov. 5 voter referendum that approved a new downtown aquarium.

The plaintiffs, Thomas Petersen and Inge Spatuzzi, argued that the city violated the Florida Constitution by entering into a tentative agreement with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. They argued that the referendum's results should be voided because the ballot's language was defective.

The city countered that the ballot language was clear. The city said its agreement with the aquarium was just a template for future negotiations, and it would not leave taxpayers on the hook if the project failed.

Circuit Judge Jack R. St. Arnold ruled in the city's favor.

"In clear and unambiguous language the voters were provided with fair notice of the chief purpose of the proposed charter amendment," the judge wrote. "The voters were not misled and were informed of the decision they were requested to make."

Last November, the city got voter approval to enter into negotiations with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for a 60-year lease on the waterfront property currently occupied by City Hall.

"The city and council were comfortable all along that the language was appropriate and met the standard that was set, and we will proceed with the next steps," Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos said Tuesday.

Aquarium officials were pleased by the ruling. "We always felt assured that the lawsuit was flawed and that the city's actions were appropriate," said aquarium CEO David Yates.

The plaintiffs live in condominiums near the site of the proposed new aquarium.

"We believe that the judge got it wrong, that the voters were misled by the language used, and that the deal can't be certain until any appeal is decided, so the city would be reckless to enter into a lease under these circumstances," Petersen said.

CMA will be allowed to build an aquarium on the City Hall property only if negotiations with the city bear fruit. The aquarium would also pay $7.5 million to the city toward the cost of building a new city hall. That money would be generated by a 50-cent surcharge on tickets at the new aquarium. After that sum was paid, the aquarium would pay $250,000 annually to the city for the remainder of the lease.

Comments
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays drop three of four in New York

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays drop three of four in New York

The Rays lose three of four games in New York as Rick Stroud says they fail to figure out the Yankees' pitching. With Christian Arroyo injured, they activate Adeiny Hechavarria — one of the stars of Sunday's win — from the disabled list a...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Florida authorities identify remains of man missing 3 years found under backyard concrete slab

Florida authorities identify remains of man missing 3 years found under backyard concrete slab

TAVARES — Florida authorities say they’ve identified the man whose remains were found under a concrete slab in his wife’s backyard.Lake County sheriff’s deputies announced Friday that the remains are those of Michael Shaver, who hadn’t been seen in t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

ST. PETERSBURG — Edward White Hospital, closed four years ago because of declining revenues, has been sold to developer Grady Pridgen for $2.7 million.Pridgen is the second developer to see potential in the hospital site at the 2300 block of 9th Aven...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Clearwater and Tampa want to turn flushed water into drinking water. Is it safe?

Clearwater and Tampa want to turn flushed water into drinking water. Is it safe?

Twenty years ago some people called it "Twerp." Others, wrinkling their noses, called it "toilet-to-tap," or something more vulgar.In 1998, Tampa tried to boost its drinking water supply by supplementing it with treated wastewater, calling the progra...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Rang...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Range...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Summer officially doesn’t start for another three days, but that won’t stop the searing temperatures and stifling humidity from making for a hot and sticky week across Tampa Bay. Temperatures will climb well into the 90s — and feel...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A sports story that we all can love

A sports story that we all can love

When we think of sports — hard-nosed, competitive sports — what words immediately come to mind? Tenacity. Grit. Guts. Perseverance. Courage. Intensity. Determination. You get the idea. Sports are usually cutthroat, give no quarter, sho...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

NEW YORK — The Adeiny Hechavarria situation is going to be interesting for the Rays. The veteran seemed destined to be traded or even released as he completed his recovery from a hamstring strain rather than play again for the Rays after last ...
Updated: 4 hours ago