Pinellas selling five buildings to Scientology | May 21, story
City knew of church's desire to buy property
Regarding the acquisition of county (government) buildings, the Church of Scientology has desired to obtain these properties for several years. Clearwater officials have long since been informed of the church's intentions, from as long as 10 years ago. As the city is also aware, the Church of Scientology is downtown Clearwater's highest taxpayer.
1) The building currently occupied by the county's Department of Environmental Management adjoins the church's new spiritual Mecca and fronts the site where the church will soon construct a 3,500-seat event hall for church gatherings and events. The church plans on removing the building and transforming the plot of land into a landscaped, sculptured garden park befitting the grandeur of the new event hall. Removal of the building will also allow a direct line of sight from Fort Harrison Avenue to the new event hall, as well as adding scenic beauty for pedestrians and commuters on Fort Harrison Avenue.
2) The gas station adjacent to the Fort Harrison Hotel will be removed and the land used to add a parking garage for use by parishioners staying at the Fort Harrison Hotel. The garage architecture will match that of the Fort Harrison.
In combination, the acquisition of these properties makes possible the integration of the complex of buildings that are the central hub of the church's religious retreat, while also adding beauty to downtown Clearwater.
Pat Harney, Clearwater
Editor's note: Pat Harney is a Church of Scientology spokeswoman.
What's next? Will city's name change?
This group continues to buy up the city of Clearwater. Soon they will try to change the name of the city to Scientology City or L. Ron Hubbard. Why do we taxpayers continue to use our tax dollars for downtown Cleveland Street improvements and cut money from Parks and Recreation? Items that benefit the residents take a backseat to improve downtown for the Scientologists.
Robert Weber, Clearwater
Re: Seniors do a slow burn over fire alarm upgrades | May 15, story
Condo manager, fire chief deserve praise
I would like to respond in regard to the fire alarm system upgrades in Town Shores of Gulfport condominiums.
Gulfport fire Chief James Marenkovic has been working diligently with Gregg Fata, property manager for Town Shores of Gulfport, to bring the 40-year-old community up to compliance with the fire prevention code that went into effect in December 2008.
As the fire chief stated at one of the meetings with owners of the condominiums, "We are already late in this upgrade."
Fata went out for bids on this project to seven different companies. The best offer was presented to the Master Board of Directors, consisting of two delegates from each building. The Master Board voted to accept the contract offered by Critical System Solutions.
The best possible price was reached for the benefit of all 16 buildings. There were no threats made for anyone to fear retaliation.
Fata got us the best possible contract and has saved us over $1 million by working with the fire chief and the contractor.
The price was for 16 buildings. One building is going with another company and that is their choice. Another has not signed any contract yet; they are still fighting this requirement in court.
As president of the Master's Association I want to thank fire Chief Marenkovic and Fata for a job well done. I'm sure most of the residents of Town Shores are very grateful to both of them.
Rosemarie Black, President, Town Shores of Gulfport Master Association
Re: Chief of schools has run her course | May 22, letter
Janssen is equipped to run school system
I wholeheartedly disagree with the position of the letter writer that school superintendent Julie Janssen should leave her position.
I have known Julie Janssen as a fellow classroom teacher, high school administrator and currently as the superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. She is fair, approachable and most of all, very well-informed regarding administration of this large system.
Her work performance has been outstanding, having contended with the "good old boy" system, which existed for years here. She inherited a huge job.
While she has personal problems, she, like other educators, leaves them at home while dealing with her job. All educators have to have this ability when facing the problems of being in the classroom and contending with the current system.
Julie has been exceptional in this area and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. She will deal admirably with her job and I am quite sure that her current personal problems will be resolved in as timely a manner as possible with no implications of "slacking off" in her work.
Tamara Badders, Largo