Parking would doom new club
We are homesteaded residents of the Isle of Sand Key, directly east of the Cabana Club, which Legg Mason is proposing to redevelop.
One of our main concerns with Legg Mason's plans to build a hotel and restaurant at this site and on the existing parking lot is the lack of adequate parking that currently exists. Parking is already a problem with just the restaurant. We have personally witnessed the cars being double-parked and exit lanes being blocked in the parking lot where the valet has to move one car to get another one out, and also know of cars being parked illegally at the local tennis courts on the island as well as in our parking lot at the Isle of Sand Key.
Legg Mason just snubs its nose at this problem and seems to have no issue with repeatedly paying tickets for the illegal parking. If this is the kind of neighbor Legg Mason is today, then how can they look at us with a straight face and tell us they are only going to provide eight more parking spaces than what currently exists?
They try to tell us that they are providing more parking than is needed by a 38-room hotel, but this ignores the fact that their plans include a 165-seat restaurant that will be open to the public, and that guests from the 425-room restored Belleview Biltmore Hotel will want to drive here for the beach or for dinner.
To make matters worse, where will the employees and managers of this hotel/restaurant park their vehicles? Do they think we believe all these people will be ferried over in some "water taxi" or shuttled over in a bus? If they can sell the city Planning Department on that one, the city should hire them to solve the parking problem on Clearwater Beach!
Better yet, the mayor may want their advice on mass transit solutions for the entire city.
Michael & Ardith Shipley, Clearwater
Re: Plans for the Cabana Club on Sand Key.
Legg Mason can do better
Before the Clearwater Community Development Board is an opportunity to set a new trend in governing. Turn away from environmentally destructive building practices of the past, to the future — protecting what few resources we have left, unlike other cement jungles most people try to escape from.
As I look at the empty condos and hotel rooms (with constantly running air-conditioning), I just wonder what kind of profit developer Legg Mason thinks they will get from the Cabana Club. Without ample parking, not much repeat business, I'd guess.
Modifying the building restrictions is no answer either. It sets a dangerous precedent for the future. We may not be as lucky, in the years to come, to have a board that actually listens to the people, and this appears to be opening the door for unbridled development.
I have the greatest respect and admiration for what Legg Mason is doing with the Belleview Biltmore Hotel. Saving a national historic treasure is no small task. We, as a community, owe them a debt of gratitude.
In so doing, might we suggest to Legg Mason that they modify their building plans for the Cabana Club on Sand Key to something more in line with the natural landscape — a "real Florida" theme? Small, quaint, lots of lush (low maintenance) Florida vegetation everywhere. Something unique that people will want to visit and pay more for.
Is it better they have 150 rooms with half of them empty, or 50 always full ones?
Given Legg Mason's noble and creative track record, I'm sure they can come up with something truly different, within planning guidelines, and that will make them more money than the current proposal.
More and more architectural plans are now taking the environment into consideration. And since this environment is the primary reason for Clearwater's success, shouldn't we?
Thank you for listening. It is really appreciated.
Lillian Johnson, Clearwater
Why the idling ambulances?
I have worked as a registered nurse at several area hospitals for 18 years. The ambulance bays are frequently occupied by ambulances idling for extended periods of time, with no personnel in sight. There are signs posted at emergency room entrances requesting that engines be turned off.
Today was the proverbial straw that prompted this letter. While entering Publix on West Bay Drive in Largo, I observed a Sunstar ambulance parked in the fire lane with the engine running, while the crew was shopping.
This is difficult for me to understand as a taxpayer, considering the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.
How does this help Sunstar's goal to be cost-effective for the benefit of citizens?
Kathryn Philbin, Largo
Re: Memorial Causeway shows 3-ft. cracks | story, Aug. 14
3-year-old bridge should be perfect
Thank goodness for the astuteness of the St. Petersburg Times photographer, who two weeks ago had noticed several cracks (about 3 feet long and several inches wide and appearing to have a corroded substance leaking from them) under the 3-year-old Memorial Causeway Bridge in Clearwater. It's nice to know that someone is paying attention.
I thought the remark made by Pepe Garcia, structure maintenance engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation, was rather flippant as he said, "Our inspectors would have eventually caught up with it."
And then Garcia went on to say that, even if the cracks hadn't been noticed until 2010, the bridge would still be safe.
Well, talk is cheap and who's really to know just how safe the bridge would be with large cracks forming? And besides, by 2010 the cracks would most likely be larger and more costly to fix — that is, if the bridge was still in one piece. As far as I'm concerned, a 3-year-old, $65-million bridge should be no less than perfect.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater