A run for office trumps secession
On Nov. 12, the Island Estates Civic Association held its annual meeting. During the meeting, the president and treasurer unveiled a beautification plan they had been working on with the city to redesign the medians on Island Way, the main thoroughfare running through the community. To fund this project, they are contemplating making a request that the city of Clearwater allocate $500,000 from the Penny for Pinellas sales tax money for trees and shrubs as a capital improvement project.
I am confused by the logic used by the association's leadership. Subsequent to this presentation, an invitation was extended by the president to a leader of the Islands Independence Initiative to update Island Estates Civic Association members on their initiative to determine the feasibility of seceding from the city to form the city of Clearwater Beach.
The group's reasoning is that members have "philosophical" differences in the way the city of Clearwater is managed. They object to the way many of the community development codes are written or administered and feel their concerns are inconsequential to city officials. (Note: three of the five council members live in the communities wishing to secede.)
The III leader told Island Estates residents to be wary, that the city could change the zoning at any time to allow for higher densities to encourage hotel development. Indeed, it could propose a change in zoning, as any city has that right. However, when higher densities previously were proposed in Island Estates, citizens spoke in opposition and city officials denied the additional density.
The III leader also mentioned that the city of Clearwater's tax rate was at least twice that of any other coastal Pinellas city. Readers should note that Clearwater has significantly more services to choose from than those other beach communities.
Secession has been considered several times in the past but abandoned. However, this representative believes the III is more astute and better organized. (Maybe the real reason former initiatives were dropped was that, ultimately, secession did not make sense.)
In order to fund the financial feasibility study necessary for legislative sponsorship, III leaders said they would have to raise approximately $90,000. Sand Key, Clearwater Beach and Island Estates were each asked to raise $30,000 by Oct. 22. As of the meeting date, approximately 30 percent had been raised. In a desperate attempt to continue the cause, the deadline was extended to late November.
What was most ironic about this meeting is that the Civic Association leadership would consider asking the city to invest $500,000 in capital improvements to Island Estates without resolution of this secession scheme.
If the III wants better government, perhaps selecting a candidate to run for the upcoming election who shares its philosophies and providing financial support to get its candidate elected is a more pragmatic approach. With a highly qualified candidate, $90,000 and a well-run campaign, the III could certainly achieve representation on the City Council that would share its vision. The real question to contemplate is, what will III beneficially achieve after spending $90,000 on a secession feasibility study?
Frank Dame, Clearwater
Turkey Trot band strikes sour note
The Times Turkey Trot has been going on for three decades. For those decades, the official band doing terrible covers of merry tunes from decades past has been positioned around the same place near Clearwater High School — namely, not outside my bedroom window.
(That changed this year.)
Look, I'm all for fun runs and getting a little exercise before gorging oneself with cubic tons of tryptophan during the annual watch-the-Lions-crash-and-burn-before-your-eyes party, but come on. It is 7:30 a.m. as I write this, which might as well be 4:30 a.m. for this royally p----- off college student.
I know what I'll be hoping for when I break my bird's wishbone this year.
Casey Peterson, Clearwater