Find new use for Clearwater's South Ward school

South Ward school has value

The following is the position of the Clearwater Historical Society on South Ward school, which was recently closed by the Pinellas County School Board.

South Ward school has been a part of downtown Clearwater since 1883, when the first wooden school was erected on the same site. As such, South Ward belongs to the public.

A model of preservation can already be found nearby with the Curtis Fundamental School, which operates under the School Board on a lease arrangement basis with the African-American Museum.

A similar arrangement with Clearwater Historical Society could be set up to provide a museum with permanent and revolving exhibits combined with a research center for use by the public. Or, perhaps one of the buildings might be suitable for a fine arts center, senior citizens meeting space, special programs space or a performing arts venue (with its stage on the third floor of the 1912 building).

Other adaptive reuses might be out there that we don't yet know about. We have heard the Francis Wilson Playhouse is looking for another home. The possibilities are there.

South Ward school, with the aid of then-Secretary of State George Firestone, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It was the oldest continually operating school in Pinellas County until it was closed last spring.

The city has made great strides in historic preservation with its endorsement of Ruth Eckerd Hall coming downtown into a restored 1921 Capitol/Royalty Theatre. Despite hard economic times, the City Council has used vision in seeing that this part of Clearwater's past might help ensure downtown's future success.

Let us not forget South Ward as well and its ties to Clearwater history, and the possibility of it, too, being part of a revitalized downtown while not eschewing our rich past.

Mike Sanders, chairman, South Ward Preservation Committee (David Allbritton, Sara Lynn White, William Wallace, Bob Delack and Chuck McPherson)

Nice bus workers make ride a joy

One of the best things about living in Clearwater is the transit system. I have ridden the bus on all routes and all the employees that I have come in contact with are great.

It starts with the man who does a great job keeping the bus depot clean, the nice ladies who give out information and tickets, and especially, the drivers. The drivers are courteous, kind and go out of their way to help. The majority of riders get off and say, "Thanks," or, "Have a nice day." A few times I have seen a driver get tested on his self-control and he/she never lost it.

The only complaint I have ever heard is the drivers expressing that it is hard for them to keep on their schedules. Having to deal with wheelchairs, motorized chairs, mothers with strollers and older people, it's amazing they are able to come close to their designated schedules.

A-plus for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority!

Nancy Simon, Clearwater

Tree regulations costly, inefficient

I am an 88-year-old ex-POW, U.S. Army veteran trying to lead a peaceful, stress-free life in retirement.

I do not have homeowners insurance. I wanted to remove two large trees (9 feet in circumference) growing within 9 feet of my home. I have seen the damage these types of trees can do in a hurricane or high winds. I intended to have them removed.

A permit was mandatory at $45. A uniformed alleged arborist informed me that I may take only one tree down — the one next to my bedroom — but that I would have to plant more trees in place of this tree that were of sufficient height and expensive "nursery grade 1." I pointed to the 14 mature oak trees adjoining my property, but to no avail. An appeal would be two layers of bureaucracy.

And you thought the federal government was getting bigger. As I recall, in Germany they called this the gestapo.

These are hard times. Get rid of these costly and unnecessary government agencies. They deprived men of employment and added an additional threat to my home. I have since had these trees trimmed. Ugh!

I expect no changes. But would somebody please buy my home cheap so I can move out of Florida before the trees come crashing down on my home?

John Halada, Palm Harbor

>>Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

Find new use for Clearwater's South Ward school 12/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 6:35pm]

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