Downtown waste of city tax dollars
I am writing to you because I feel strongly about the so-called redevelopment of downtown Clearwater. I think the taxpayers of Clearwater are having their taxes wasted on the attempt to revitalize the downtown area. I have some experience in this field, since I taught marketing and retailing for 36 years at universities, including the University of South Florida.
The city has poured millions of dollars into trying to revitalize the downtown area, including the fancy road work on Cleveland Street. It has not worked and it will not work because downtown Clearwater has gone the same way as thousands of downtowns in our country in the past 60 years. Time has passed it by, mainly because people no longer desire to shop there.
There are several reasons why consumers desire to shop at other locations.
First, competition. Better and more retail stores are located in shopping centers. Within 20 minutes of downtown Clearwater are three shopping centers: Countryside Mall, Clearwater Mall and Largo Mall.
Second, accessibility. The new bridge to Clearwater Beach makes downtown more difficult to visit. Traffic is no longer forced to go down Cleveland Street.
Third, people with money to spend no longer live near the downtown. By and large, they have moved to the suburbs. This is the main reason the three malls have prospered.
Fourth, Scientology. A consulting firm hired by the city concluded that Scientology is an asset. If true, why has downtown not prospered in the last 30 years? Some people will not shop downtown because they perceive that many stores are owned by Scientologists. Whether this is true or not doesn't really matter — perception is all that matters.
Fifth, the economy. We are in the worst economic slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It will be another five years before we get back to level we were at in 2006. A good example is the Water's Edge condo in downtown that has only 10 of its units sold.
If the city didn't waste money on a hopeless problem, maybe we could keep our libraries open longer, or maybe it wouldn't have to force some city administrators to retire.
You will always have a few retail stores be successful in downtown, such as restaurants, to serve the commercial, banking and county facilities, and Morton Plant Hospital, but I do not see a big increase in retailing.
Many things have changed in our cities in the last 60 years, and none has been to the betterment of downtowns.
C. E. Vincent, Clearwater
Thanks to food collectors, donors
Once again, the Salvation Army of Clearwater and Upper Pinellas County, along with numerous other community services agencies, has been the recipient of generous donations of nonperishable food, which will greatly assist us in restocking our social services food pantries in Clearwater and Tarpon Springs. The Salvation Army received tons of donated food collected by U.S. Postal Service letter carriers from the Dunedin and Clearwater main post offices. In addition, many volunteers from the Salvation Army Advisory Board and the community assisted.
The food will be used in meeting the emergency needs of impoverished families who are coming to the Salvation Army for assistance in much greater numbers than in the past due to the recent economic downturn and increasing unemployment.
We express profound appreciation to the local letter carriers who participated in the food drive sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers, and to local residents who responded so generously to this "neighbor helping neighbor" service program. May God bless you.
Roger Raymond, chairman, Clearwater Advisory Board, and Major Dean Hinson, commanding officer, Salvation Army