Re: Merchants say protesters are driving away business, story, May 14
Scientology's grip hurts downtown
It seems to me a very positive thing to see a younger generation willing to express its freedom of speech. It is also nice to see people and activity in usually quiet downtown Clearwater.
I believe that these protesters, while focused on the unknown specifics of the inner workings of Scientology, are also expressing that they want to have Clearwater's downtown feel free and open to all. In my opinion, it is not the demonstrations that are hurting the downtown merchants.
The fact is that many people believe Clearwater will be a more exciting and healthy city once the downtown area has vitality and is again a place that everyone is proud of.
A variety of shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, etc., would make it easier for most to realize and support this fact, and our mayor and City Council continue to make progress in helping bring these businesses back into our downtown for the benefit of all.
Whatever the true intent of the Scientology leadership is, they have yet to convince many that the group as a whole is any benefit to this city. They continue to hold our downtown hostage with the ownership and use of some of the valuable street-front retail space in a manner detrimental to what should be a public and welcoming downtown area.
Why is it that the most prominent and visible downtown intersection, with the most automobile traffic, is today still maintained as a lifeless street edge on the east side?
The northeast and southeast corners of the Fort Harrison Avenue and Cleveland Street intersection, a gateway to our downtown core, are unique, and large former retail and office buildings are today used as private spaces with permanently shuttered miniblinds.
These and other prime spaces along the Cleveland Street corridor are used in a manner that gives some an uneasy feeling when visiting the area, even if it is just to see what progress is being made today.
Scientology has claimed that it is community oriented. When is Scientology going to jump on board with our city's downtown revitalization efforts with true actions and community efforts?
When will Scientology sell or lease these many shuttered street-front properties? There are surely many interested businesses that would flourish in a downtown district that is supported by a variety of people walking and driving.
Clearwater needs its downtown to be once again an economic engine for this city. The area is a key transition to Clearwater Beach, and its redevelopment is as important as the beach's. This commercial and office area is needed to support the surrounding residential areas in a more sustainable way — that is, by reducing the driving miles needed to attain goods and entertainment.
It is time that the Scientology leadership realizes the negative impact of its stranglehold on downtown Clearwater's main corridor. It is time that more residents aware of our downtown's significance express their viewpoint to our mayor and City Council so they pursue all prudent legal and policymaking avenues to ensure that our downtown street-front spaces are used in a manner appropriate to the district.
No one may be able to force the group to lease or sell these spaces, but when more residents and business leaders take more interest and provide the pressure, the need, and the want of having a vital downtown district, then surely the revitalization will begin to snowball. Today we can already visualize the beauty, the value and the democracy of what our downtown would once again be. Just go down and visit and promise yourself you will not abandon a gem of a place just waiting to shine once again!
Ric Ortega, Clearwater
Re: Nielsen's employees skeptical of apology, story, May 24
Let Nielsen boss face same fate
How much gall does Nielsen chief David Calhoun have? He takes everyone outside and does a song and dance about how bad he's treated his loyal employees (at the Dunedin call center).
He does this when he's already proved they're only warm bodies to him. He never addressed the issue of how he's cheated Oldsmar and the state out of taxes by dancing around the agreement he made with them.
I always get a kick out of these CEOs that preach loyalty, loyalty, loyalty and then proceed to kick them out the door to increase the bottom line. How soon they forget the people that got them to the top in the first place.
I hope someday to read where the board handed him his walking papers and to hear him cry about loyalty.
Robert Murray, Oldsmar
Spurt of growth not always good
They keep on talking about us having a water shortage. I don't see why they keep on building new condos and apartments. The way they keep on building, I have a feeling that there's no shortage of water.
Also, they keep on tearing down old buildings and building something else. Pretty soon Clearwater will not have any history. The old bridge, train station, etc., are gone. I wish they were still around.
Clearwater sure has changed since the year 2000. Clearwater has lots of new buildings. Please, stop building new apartments and condos.
Shirley Campbell, Clearwater