Sunday, February 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: New Fenway owner can be business boost

Some Dunedin officials and residents are disappointed that the historic former Fenway hotel on the Edgewater Drive waterfront has been purchased by a not-for-profit organization, the Taoist Tai Chi Society, rather than by developers who planned to build a boutique hotel on the 6.4-acre site. Some have whispered concerns about the group, its intentions and its unusual-sounding name. Though purchase by a private entity with a commercial purpose would have come with more tax benefits for the city, the new owner at least plans to preserve the 90-year-old landmark rather than tear it down, which preservationists should celebrate.

The Taoist Tai Chi Society is not unknown in Dunedin, the Tampa Bay region or Florida. Its national headquarters is in Tallahassee. It has conducted classes for years in Dunedin. It operates centers in several other Pinellas cities, including St. Petersburg, and hundreds of Pinellas residents go to those centers as well as other locations each week to practice tai chi. The society has a reputation as a quiet, responsible property owner where it has centers.

The society's ownership of the Fenway property unfortunately will not benefit city coffers, since it is a religious organization exempt from paying property taxes. The city and some residents had been rooting instead for the father-daughter development team of James and Christy Bower, even though they planned to tear down the building rather than preserve it. The Bowers said they would build a replica of the Fenway and operate it as a boutique hotel and conference center with condos. Supporters liked that it would continue to be called the Fenway and would be open to the public. City officials had eagerly anticipated the property taxes that would be collected from the $15 million hotel development.

However, PNC Bank, which foreclosed on the property, chose to sell to the Tai Chi Society for $2.8 million. The organization plans to restore the structure and operate it as its second international conference center — the other one is in Ontario. According to a society official, practitioners of tai chi will come from all over the world for workshops, conferences and religious festivals.

Despite the popularity of tai chi as a form of exercise practiced worldwide, the group's origins and practices are not well known, which may be contributing to residents' concerns about the purchase. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that aims to improve health through fluid, slow-moving exercises and meditation. The Taoist Tai Chi Society was founded by a Taoist monk, the late Master Moy Lin-Shin, who as a young man used tai chi to improve his poor health. He eventually developed the 108-move set of tai chi exercises that is taught today. The certified instructors who teach tai chi are unpaid volunteers, as are many of those who run the organization.

Though the city may have wished for something different, scoring an international conference center for an organization that operates in 26 countries is not bad news. Visitors to the conference center will bring business to Dunedin shops, restaurants and hotels, and some of those visitors may choose to live in Dunedin after being exposed to the city's considerable charms.

The city government should set aside its disappointment, because it has an important role now: to welcome the new property owner, assist as the society begins formulating its plans, and ensure the restoration of Dunedin's most important historic landmark is properly done.

Comments
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18