Where is push to revamp Biltmore?
Where are the Friends of the Biltmore and Save the Biltmore folks now? After vociferously campaigning to save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel, they are as scarce as hen's teeth. Now, the "White Queen of the Gulf" has turned into the White Elephant of the Gulf.
Full disclosure: I live across the road from the hotel and look at the decomposition daily. Some folks want to blame the town of Belleair for the fact that the renovation has not begun, when in fact the town issued seven variances and approved the project presented by Legg Mason. The town also extended the deadline for pulling permits and extended the deadline for fixing the roof for one year.
Let's not lose sight of the fact that the Belleview Biltmore is a private enterprise and not part of the town's Parks and Recreation Department. Some folks want to blame the litigants who brought lawsuits against the hotel owners, which delayed the project. The courts ruled in favor of Legg Mason on both lawsuits.
The economic problems in the country started long before the lawsuits were filed. Maybe the plans to renovate were too grandiose. In the meantime, demolition by neglect continues, the town is losing tax dollars as well as water and sewer fees, and property values are declining, with no plans in place to begin renovation.
Maybe it's time for the Friends of the Biltmore and Save the Biltmore to resurface and instead of carrying placards that read "Save the Hotel," they might carry ones that read "Renovate the Hotel Now." It would be a shame for this hotel to mimic the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg and sit boarded up and decaying for years to come. I think Belleair Mayor Gary Katica was correct — we were sold a bill of goods.
Lil Cromer, Belleair
Re: 'Insiders,' 'Outsiders' duel | Diane Steinle column, Aug. 8
Column on school races helpful
Your recent column about the forthcoming Pinellas School Board election was one of the best you've ever written. Your discussion of "insider" vs. "outsider" candidates was particularly analytical and illuminating. Also, I enjoyed your comments about candidates being subjected to only "yes" or "no" answers when dealing with very complex questions — a candidate forum procedure that has long concerned me. Thank you, editor Steinle, for helping me decide my choices in this important election.
Bill Schwob, Clearwater