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Protesters didn't cause the decline of St. Petersburg's BayWalk's

They put dagger into BayWalk | Oct. 4, Tim Nickens column

Don't pin the blame on protesters

Early in his column, Tim Nickens notes how we are "in the midst of the greatest economic recession in our lifetimes" and then proceeds to blame the demise of BayWalk on protesters and the St. Petersburg City Council members who respected the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and sound business practice.

Given his acknowledgement, one would have expected to read that the failure of BayWalk had somehow been affected by the global recession, the worst since the 1930s. But that is not the case. Nickens emphatically states that protesters had the ultimate influence and sway to shut down a shopping mall (while protesting there less than 1 percent of the time and stopping demonstrations entirely almost a year ago).

Although I wish that were the case, it is not. A more reasonable assumption has to do with the global economic crisis and our current economic system. Capitalism, our economic system of choice, is guided by the theory of supply and demand. If shop owners supply a product that people demand, they will be successful in business. If the people do not demand the product, due to their own personal economic situation or bad product placement by the shop owner, then capitalism wins out once again.

Protesters had nothing to do with BayWalk's demise. The bad economy and deteriorating personal finances of area citizens did.

Marianne Huber, St. Petersburg

City now must act

How true, Mr. Nickens. Now the St. Petersburg City Council must come up with an alternative to vacating one block of sidewalk, and it undoubtedly will be a more expensive issue.

If the protesters come back, surely the city can specify where they can protest. They can't block off businesses and public access. Bring in the police on horseback and move them away from the BayWalk entrance. The city has to work fast to set a new strategy to help the owners of BayWalk and to keep Muvico theaters a viable part of it. BayWalk as a whole is important to St. Petersburg. It's there for everybody to enjoy even if some of those recent protesters didn't seem to care.

Jim Studdiford, St. Petersburg

They put dagger into BayWalk | Oct. 4, Tim Nickens column

It's time to seek some real solutions

It would be amazing if giving in to the demands of BayWalk management and ceding a portion of city-owned sidewalk would solve all their problems. In his rather nasty opinion piece attacking four St. Petersburg City Council members for voting their consciences, Tim Nickens makes just this argument.

Was it the occasional antiwar demonstration that was responsible for BayWalk's troubles? Perhaps the deep recession we are struggling through has something more to do with it, or the inability of BayWalk management to properly supervise what went on inside the complex.

Did Nickens forget the audio equipment that fell on the child or the almost weekly failure of BayWalk security to control the behavior of teenagers gathered inside their courtyard? Then, of course, we had frequent stories of cars and persons being robbed in the adjacent garage.

But somehow giving BayWalk more property to poorly supervise is Nickens' only answer, and now that this has failed the only possible result is to close the doors and blame council members who had the temerity to vote against a Times recommendation.

Perhaps the real solution is to put the blame aside and work with BayWalk toward real solutions that, with an improving economy, will bring people and businesses back to a better managed complex.

William Adams, St. Petersburg

They put dagger into BayWalk | Oct. 4, Tim Nickens column

Keep debate civil

We can agree to disagree on the privatizing of public sidewalks and other properties, but I'm disturbed at the hatchet job that Tim Nickens has done on City Council members who voted against transferring the sidewalk fronting BayWalk — property of all of St. Petersburg's citizens — to BayWalk's ownership. There's a tone of vendetta in his remarks inappropriate in a politically forward-looking newspaper.

Surrendering/privatizing a public right of way is of dubious wisdom (if not questionable legality). The rights of groups to protest there, or not, seem a red herring: No-protest zones can be created and enforced by the city.

As a visitor to BayWalk over the years, I believe there were more serious reasons for its longtime troubles. To name one, many of its high-priced shops ($200-plus French athletic shoes, costly leather luggage, etc.) had little appeal for most shoppers. Another is the dingy tone which enveloped its upper level within a few years of BayWalk's opening.

Let's be less quick to read bad faith or lack of wisdom into opponents' views. Only civility makes public discourse possible.

Peter McNamara, St. Petersburg

They put dagger into BayWalk | Oct. 4

Misguided council vote

Tim Nickens was far too kind to St. Petersburg's City Council. Usually they seem to dance to any developer's tune, but in voting the death of BayWalk they showed their fear of the people who don't care if your business dies as long as they can force their point of view into your face and that of your potential clients and customers.

BayWalk was nice while it lasted. Even on a HUD resident's income I was able to visit a few times, window shop fine stores and see movies, until the nonsense and thuggery began.

If I said publicly what I really think of St. Petersburg's City Council I would be violating my own views of free speech. I don't have the right to force you to hear my views unless you ask me or I hire a suitable venue. It seems some other people have been given that "right."

Max R. Loick, St. Petersburg

They put dagger into BayWalk | Oct. 4

Lower the rents

One of the problems mentioned by retailers at BayWalk is high rents. Maybe lowering rents could help to save it so that stores can afford to stay.

I applaud the City Council for voting down making the sidewalk private. That was a clear violation of constitutional rights.

Dolores Gevaza, St. Petersburg

Doctors' fears drive up costs | Oct. 3, story

We can lower health costs

This article highlights the economic burden of practicing defensive medicine instead of evidence-based medicine. What is given only lip service is that people can look no further than themselves to reduce the cost of health care. Alcohol, tobacco and obesity are the drivers of health care costs, not defensive medicine, paper medical records, and technology such as CT scans.

The responsibility of lowering the cost rests not with politicians and doctors but with each American. Individual accountability has become lost in the endless finger-pointing of whom and what to blame for the outrageous cost of health care.

Louis N. Ciardulli, Safety Harbor

Teen's quest turns tragic | Oct. 3, story

Questionable behavior

We are all empathetic toward Alex Davidson and his family and wish him a full recovery, as miraculous as it would be. But we must also be cognizant of the fact that climbing a 35-foot power pole was an act that has to be questioned. We must also hope there are no plaintiff's attorneys out there who will take this opportunity to sue any civic organization, property owner or TECO over this senseless tragedy.

David Lubin, Tampa

Protesters didn't cause the decline of St. Petersburg's BayWalk's 10/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 5, 2009 7:11pm]
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