Aquarium's big question, and Injured birds will get help, but... | stories, March 3
Why not combine bird, sea rescue?
The juxtaposition of the stories in Sunday's Clearwater & North Pinellas Times about the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's proposal for downtown Clearwater and the emergence of Suncoast Bird Rescue illuminated an important connection between the two: They both share the mission of rescuing and rehabilitating marine wildlife.
Collaboration between the two, rather than launching one single attraction, could transform downtown Clearwater's identity by giving it a viable, long-term mission — one that educates and generates an appreciation among visitors and residents about the ecology and wildlife, feathered and finned, that make our area unique.
Businesses would have a compelling reason to take root and spin off that theme.
As downtown partners, the two could attract a more diverse population of visitors and locals, which would add to the long-term viability of the project — an important factor when residents vote on the referendum.
If it comes to pass, Clearwater residents will have good reason to take pride in their downtown. They have waited a long time.
Cindy Deadman Maxwell, Clearwater
Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion
Stop before losses deluge aquarium
Anyone who claims to be a supporter of cooperative regionalism in our purported community of Tampa Bay needs to start writing letters and emails to the board of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium right now. They need to say "Stop! This is a monumentally bad idea that will do irreparable harm to so many people and institutions that it defies reason." Copy Mayor George Cretekos, Pinellas County Commission Chairman Ken Welch and any other public official who will be called upon to lend financial support to this ruinous pipe dream.
Without a $7 million per year subsidy from Tampa, the Florida Aquarium there would probably fold. Then review the umpteen articles about the attendance woes of the Rays and Bucs. Then stir in the new Secrets of the Seas Marine Science Center being built at John's Pass. Then ask St. Petersburg what the existence of Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts has meant to the Mahaffey Theater.
This is a clear case of not understanding the impact of competition in Tampa Bay. Twenty-five years ago there were limited entertainment options here. Now, the discretionary leisure dollar has been sliced so thinly that every not-for-profit entertainment venue has struggled of late, with little relief in sight.
I'm thrilled with the success in Clearwater that aquarium CEO David Yates has conjured up from the making of a heart-rending fish tale. But ultimately, Winter the dolphin is a one-trick pony that will cause more damage to the Tampa Bay cultural scene that won't be fixable with a gimmick.
Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg
Dunedin leaders brainstorm story, March 1
Pedestrian mall's a great idea
What a wonderful idea to have a pedestrian mall for Main Street in Dunedin! There is nothing more enjoyable than to be able to stroll down the street during festivals instead of trying to squeeze by on the small sidewalks.
Germany and Belgium and many European countries have been doing this for years. They have free parking outside of the malls with shuttle service running repeatedly.
I don't think Dunedin needs a shuttle service, since it is very easy to walk there. However, I think more free parking lots would add to the incentive to come downtown more often.
Concetta Platania, Dunedin
Clearwater rejects hotel story, Feb. 23
Council's reason not reported
Your article misleads. The City Council wisely rejected the proposal, but not because it was too big for the site. (Nowhere in their lengthy discussion was that identified as an issue.)
The hotel density reserve units are to be used for restoration of lost midprice, midsize hotels, not for bringing older units into compliance.
The project did not comply with those rules, and would certainly have contributed to an undesirable canyon effect as well.
Vicki Jackson, Clearwater