Re: Downtown dos and don'ts list may surprise Diane Steinle column, Aug. 24
Study waste of time and money
I'm not sure whether to be amused or angry at this article about Economics Research Associates' findings concerning downtown Clearwater. Maybe both.
It's bad enough that the city, in tight economic times, paid out $145,000 (plus expenses) for what any local with half a brain could have told them for free, but even then, most of their findings were dubious at best and wrong at worst.
The only finding I agree with is, yes, there is plenty of parking downtown. It may not be obvious and it's not free, but it is there. If downtown Clearwater plans to compete with Clearwater Mall, however, the parking has to be free. Period. There's simply no way around that if downtown is to ever work.
It makes no sense to say rents have to go up, as there are too many empty storefronts downtown right now even at these "low" prices. I'd say rents need to go down even further if you're going to attract any viable retail, but what do I know?
As for blaming the Harborview Center and discounting the impact of SteinMart, the Harborview is totally underutilized and SteinMart is just one store. We need five more just like it downtown to start to build a retail base to attract people.
By far the most amazing, and erroneous, conclusion in those findings was that Scientology is an asset to downtown. I don't see that at all. I see Scientology as the reason so many Clearwater residents refuse to come downtown, and rightfully so. If you ask them, they'll tell you it's the lack of parking or retail or whatever, but the honest truth is this: For as long as Scientology has a presence in Clearwater, downtown Clearwater will never become a viable retail district, as it will never have the public's support.
And the city of Clearwater needs to get its money back from Economics Research Associates. They were had.
Alfred Jarry, Clearwater
Editor's note: The $145,000 bill for the Economics Research Associates study was paid by the Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency, not the city government.
Re: Ready to save us and our pets | story, Aug. 28
Rescuing animals is being human
I would like to commend Largo fire Chief Mike Wallace and Palm Harbor fire Chief Jim Angle for their positive comments concerning fire departments rescuing animals in distress.
While I understand that human emergencies come first, it is nice to know that the Largo Fire Department, and I'm sure many others, are prepared to utilize their training to help save animals that cannot help themselves.
A few weeks ago a letter writer indicated that this was a waste of taxpayers' money (Effort to save dog wasted resources, Aug. 5). In that case, a dog was attacked by bees and the paramedics did the best they could to keep him comfortable and used their vehicle to transport him to an emergency vet. While the dog died, perhaps other humans and animals were saved by their heroic actions. This was not a waste of tax dollars.
I would also like to note that thanks to the Humane Society of North Pinellas while under the direction of Rick Chaboudy, oxygen masks for animals were distributed, at no charge, throughout the county. These masks are made especially for animals and are now part of the equipment carried in these emergency vehicles. This means that if an emergency does arise, we now have the proper equipment that will fit dogs, cats, birds and, I believe, reptiles.
The article also had a quote by Wallace that the "fire department's mission is to protect people and improve their quality of life and animals play a major role in residents' quality of life." Nothing could be more true.
A life is a life. Enough said.
Nancy Dively, Tarpon Springs