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Clearwater Beach secession would be costly mistake

Re: Activists study secession | story, April 21

New city will be extremely costly

What are they thinking? If beach residents think their property taxes are high now, consider the thought of assuming all of the existing bond financing costs for the recent upgrading of the beach infrastructure including the beach marina, library, upgraded utilities, Pier 60, Beach Walk, etc., whose costs currently are spread among 110,000 residents of Clearwater.

What about the costs for the fire station and fire protection, police, water, solid waste and sewer treatment? They will have to be purchased from someplace else and probably not at some other entity's cost.

Take one example: With 110,000 residents, the $30 million cost for the Beach Walk project would be $272.73 per resident within the city. Sand Key, Clearwater Beach and Island Estates have a population of approximately 10,000. Should these neighborhoods secede from the city, the new city of Clearwater Beach would have to assume all of this cost and spread it among its residents, which would amount to $3,000 per resident — almost a 1,000 percent increase per resident in the cost of this one project!

Think about paying for a new mayor and council, a city planning department, a code enforcement group, maintaining the beach marina, staffing the library and recreation center and all the other services a city must provide, whose costs are currently spread among so many of us.

These activists claim they are pursuing this initiative because of "philosophical differences" with the city. They don't like the flexibility of the development codes. They feel the incumbents are not looking out for the beach residents' best welfare and make poor decisions impacting the future of the beaches. Simply put, they generally don't like the way the city is managed.

Interestingly enough, three of the five City Council members live on the beaches. So the beach has more than its fair share of representation relative to the city's total population.

It is also disheartening to note that these six activists from Sand Key, Clearwater Beach and Island Estates believe the best way to deal with issues concerning their communities is to create divisiveness within the city and to attempt to work their citizens into a frenzy — enough to consider a secession under the guise of "philosophical differences."

It is particularly disturbing to observe that one of these activists is the president of the association in one of the communities mentioned. He has declared his preference to secede from the city and states that he is acting only as an individual.

However, by virtue of his position as president of this particular community's civic association, he invited fellow members of his group to a town hall meeting to further their "exploratory" point of view, which may not necessarily be shared by the majority of those in the community he represents as their leader.

As a president or head of a community association, the incumbent has a responsibility to set aside his or her personal views to facilitate the will of the people within the community he or she was elected to lead. And until those views of the community are determined, its leader should remain unbiased. Even the mayor, as head of the city, cannot make a motion on the council to further a personal view or initiative. He must defer to other council members to make a motion. Only then may he vote on the motion.

Rather than the radical step of secession, perhaps a more feasible, practical and financially pragmatic approach would be to develop support for a candidate or candidates of their choice to begin a campaign for an upcoming election to replace council members they feel are not looking out for their best interest or to lead an initiative to change what they don't like about development codes.

Ironically, the activists have named their group "Islands Independence Initiative" or "III."

How fitting are these initials for the representation of a group that appears to be so self-indulgent, with what could be considered an elitist view, and that seems to have a total disregard for the rest of the city. It is a far cry from the Island Estates' motto of "Promoting Unity within the Community."

Frank Dame, Island Estates, Clearwater

Re: Philippe Parkway makeover

Good traffic flow is main concern

First and most important, how is the heavy traffic controlled during the morning and afternoon hours when cars are going to and coming back from work? We are a growing community that doesn't need makeovers, but a concern for proper traffic flow.

Second, where is the bidding process? Did I miss something? Even though Keith Zayac is a Safety Harbor resident and a good neighbor, I saw nothing in the Times representing the process.

Joe LaMonica, Safety Harbor

Grad Night a soaring success

On May 1, 169 eighth-graders from Safety Harbor Middle School attended Grad Night hosted by Busch Gardens. This was a first but I dare to say not the last — I'm already looking forward to next year. These students were dressed appropriately and behaved appropriately while having a great time.

Kudos to Leza Fatolitis, Matt Miller and Kellen Scott for spearheading this event and to many first-year teachers at Safety Harbor Middle School who, after a busy week, gave of their free time to chaperone.

These students and staff have once again made SHMS proud. Way to go, Seahawks!

Janice Brown, Safety Harbor

>>your voice counts

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Clearwater Beach secession would be costly mistake 05/04/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 4, 2009 8:16pm]
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