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Dunedin Fine Art Center loses city, private support

Lack of support concerns donor

At the Dunedin City Commission budget hearing Aug. 10, the commissioners cut their support for the Dunedin Fine Art Center by 20 percent. This is the third year of cuts in financial support for a total of 40 percent.

This comes at a very inopportune time for the art center as it was going to bid to rebuild the original section of the city-owned building funded solely by private contributions. How can private donors be expected to fund that addition when the city is drastically reducing its support of this unique facility for Dunedin and North Pinellas?

Commissioner Dave Carson, from before his election, has professed a reluctance to support this organization. He now has two other commissioners in his corner. As one who has pledged to the capital campaign, I can't in good conscience fund expansion of a city-owned building in a community with so little official support. I recommend not moving forward with construction and beginning to look for alternatives.

There are two old sayings that come to mind: "Actions speak louder than words" and, "Perception is reality."

Art Leasure, Dunedin

Shortsighted cuts hurt city's future

After leaving the Aug. 10 budget workshop at Dunedin City Hall, I can't believe the anger and distrust I have for three of my city's commissioners.

I have been a lifelong resident of Pinellas County and a Dunedin resident for 35 years. I have served on the board of directors for the Dunedin Fine Art Center for many years, beginning in 1985, and served as its president for six years. I have had a close understanding of the organizational workings of this nonprofit and its effort to offer high-quality art instruction and exhibitions to the public while responsibly managing its financial obligations.

The art center was provided seed money by the city in 1975 to hire an executive director and to establish a stable base upon which to grow programming. Over the years the center has accomplished this through the guidance of its executive directors and volunteer board of directors. The current budget is now over $1 million. The center did not become this successful without the hard work and support of the community.

Three current city commissioners — Mayor Dave Eggers, Vice Mayor Dave Carson and Commissioner Julie Bujalski — have consistently shown no support for the Dunedin Fine Art Center, a cultural institution that has given Dunedin a place on the map and a unique identity as an artsy cultural town. At the budget hearing, these elected representatives underscored their unwillingness to fund and support the center.

They also, by their withdrawal of support for the center, have negatively aligned the Dunedin Historical Society with the art center by increasing financial support for only the historical society. This decision to reward an organization that hasn't grown and continues to struggle for financial stability is both unwise and unfair.

By reducing funding for the art center, these three elected officials seem focused upon punishing the center for being fiscally responsible all these years. All cultural nonprofits are having an extremely hard time searching for funding, and any and all financial support is important.

This is not the way Dunedin will increase economic growth downtown. This is not the way a community supports the organizations that make it a livable city. I am ashamed of being represented by such narrow-minded and shortsighted representatives.

Susan Rollins Gehring, Dunedin

Re: Bluff plan alarms residents | story, Aug. 6

Don't destroy Belleair's bluff

I own property at 301 Palmetto Road in Belleair, close to the area affected by this dredge and fill project. I would like to go on record as opposing the plan in its current form.

This beautiful high bluff, unique in all of Florida with its waterfall, arrowheads, oak trees and sheer pristine beauty which attracted early pioneers to the Belleair area, will be lost as we know it if this massive project with a 2,828-foot gabion sea wall and 25,442 cubic yards of fill is allowed to forever change this landscape.

I was more in favor of a 6-year-old plan to simply address the specific drainage problems from Bayview Drive toward the bay, but since that plan has merged with this current dredge and fill plan, I have no choice but to strongly oppose it.

Yes, some erosion has occurred as it naturally does along Florida's entire coastline, but does it warrant this massive reconstruction of Belleair's irreplaceable landmark? It is not too late to consider minimal intrusion into this unique wildlife habitat and natural coastline while still addressing the problems at hand. This project could very well determine much about Belleair's future.

Mike Sanders, Clearwater

Re: 'Insiders,' 'Outsiders' duel | Diane Steinle column, Aug. 8

Board choices are illuminated

Your recent column about the forthcoming Pinellas School Board election was one of the best you've ever written. Your discussion of "insider" versus "outsider" candidates was particularly analytical and illuminating. Also, I enjoyed your comments about candidates being subjected to only "yes" or "no" answers when dealing with very complex questions — a candidate forum procedure that has long concerned me. Thank you, editor Steinle, for helping me decide my choices in this important election.

Bill Schwob, Clearwater

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Dunedin Fine Art Center loses city, private support 08/17/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 6:11pm]
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