Vision of five made our beach thrive | Diane Steinle column, July 4
Others deserving BeachWalk credit
It is always important to look back on projects, especially catalytic projects, and judge their impact, and BeachWalk on Clearwater Beach is worthy of that analysis! I believe without a doubt it is one of the best examples of a big vision that at times made everyone uncomfortable due to cost and inconvenience. That being said, the positive impact is undeniable and should be a template for Clearwater's future when a special opportunity arises.
What I was uncomfortable with, in relation to the article on July 4, was the level of credit that I received as mayor. I presided over the City Council and ﬁnal vote for BeachWalk, but the project was conceived, designed and initially funded under the leadership of Mayor Brian Aungst. There were many naysayers when it came to expending $30 million and removing 650 beach parking spaces, but the council under Brian believed in the ultimate impact and that the costs and inconvenience would be forgotten over time, while the benefits would accrue for generations.
BeachWalk is a complete success, with the hotels adjacent picking up a portion of the tab and the entire city benefiting. Many other cities have traveled to Clearwater in hopes of replicating the results.
Mayors and councils change over time with many lending a hand, and that is the case with BeachWalk. A hearty thanks must also be given to the late Congressman Bill Young and former Congressman Mike Bilirakis.
We would also be remiss to ignore the sacrifice that businesses on the beach made and our citizens over the almost three-year construction. Kudos to all the dedicated parties for seeing the project through. Now we can enjoy the fruits, and remember that aspirational projects are worth the effort!
Frank Hibbard, Clearwater
Friendly faces define Clearwater
My family and I have just returned from a trip to the Clearwater area.
As Canadians, we often hear about how "friendly" our country is. However, my partner and I found ourselves exclaiming over and over how friendly everyone was in Clearwater. We spent much time riding our bikes, and I was wonderfully surprised by all of the courteous drivers we encountered.
We also visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium several times with our children and were taken aback by all of the friendly, caring volunteers, interns and staff.
We truly look forward to visiting again!
Amanda Reimer, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Hybrid EMS plan suggested, story, July 11
Fewer trucks will help save bucks
I have lived in a congregate living facility locally for nine years. From my 13th floor apartment I can see emergency vehicles arrive, sometimes as many as three per day.
First the red fire and rescue van comes and two workers enter with their equipment. I was told they are supposed to evaluate the case and see if an ambulance is needed. But the ambulance usually arrives immediately afterward, or sometimes before. They unload their gurney and equipment and join the crowd. Once in awhile if the rescue van isn't available we get a fire engine instead. And sometimes it's a long hook and ladder fire truck. (Do they still call them that?)
I wonder how much manpower and money would be saved if we followed County Commission candidate Ed Hooper's idea of sending one vehicle, equipped to handle it all, when it's a medical emergency at a place like ours. I admit I would miss watching the huge fire truck make its U-turn out of our parking lot, but that's expensive entertainment!
H. B. Mitchell, Clearwater
Handicap rules on Pinellas Trail
I would like an answer to a problem I have had with riding my golf cart on the Pinellas Trail. I have a handicap placard on the windshield of my golf cart.
I have ridden from my home in Palm Harbor to the Pinellas Trail at Yawl and Alt. U.S. 19 and got on the trail for two blocks to the first road going to Ozona (a golf cart-friendly community). We have been stopped three times in the last two to three years by two county deputies and one park ranger.
All three times they checked our handicap placard and said we were legal, "have a good day." But June 21 we were stopped and detained for close to an hour by a sheriff's deputy who disagreed with our version of the law. We told him to look at the sign at every entrance to the trail. It says "No Motorized Vehicles Allowed." Then in the upper left corner is the handicap symbol used worldwide and under it, it says "ALLOWED." We told him of our past experiences of being stopped and were told it was legal. He disagreed with all of the accounts.
I would like a straightforward answer. Are we allowed on the trail with a handicap placard on the windshield or not? I feel some who do not know the law are discriminating against disabled persons. This is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Paul Green, Palm Harbor