Dad owned Biltmore, but willing to let it go
As the daughter of the former owner of the Belleview Biltmore, the late Bernard Powell, I have been observing for many years, with very mixed feelings, the ongoing questions over the fate of the hotel.
On the one hand, I have so many wonderful memories of an idyllic childhood and on into adulthood spent at this beautiful place: families arriving each year to spend often one to three months, dressing up every Saturday night, the wonderful parties and events that took place. I'm sure almost everyone that lives near the Belleview has his or her own special feelings for the White Queen.
On the other hand, times began to change and the whole tone of the hotel began to go downhill. People were not impressed with the historical significance of the hotel.
My friends have said over and over how devastated I must feel to see the hotel deteriorating, and that my father must be turning over in his grave. Well, I do feel incredibly sad, but my father was primarily a businessman and he did not hesitate to sell it when he saw the handwriting on the wall.
The hotel flourished for a century, and now, sadly, I believe its time has come. Several owners have accomplished their goal, which was "demolition by neglect," and even though some philanthropist could conceivably come along, the odds are great that it will not happen and the hotel will continue to rot away.
(St. Petersburg developer) Mike Cheezem used a very apt phrase when he said it could become a "400-room museum." The preservationists are sadly grasping at straws, comparing the Belleview to the Vinoy, the Don CeSar and even the Del Coronado! The Belleview has no beach, no waterfront and no golf course. In short, it is not a destination resort and is not likely to become one by any stretch of the imagination.
We in Belleair missed one great chance, with (previous owner) Legg Mason, and I hope we won't make the same mistake again. Mr. Cheezem has a very good track record and seems to be willing to face the myriad problems that will come with repurposing the property.
The Town Commission needs to face reality and take steps to move Belleair forward. Let's all remember the Belleview Biltmore for what she was, not what she is now!
Kathy Powell Strong, Belleair
Builder still has eye on Biltmore | story, Jan. 29
It's too late to save Biltmore hotel
The doom of the Belleview Biltmore hotel didn't begin when they stopped patching holes in the roof or exterminating its rats and termites. It started with the selling off of its waterfront for high rises.
People don't come to Florida to view the backs of condos — they want to see dolphins, shorelines and boats. Even Orlando's theme parks build their own bodies of water so guests have more to look at than parked cars.
Had enormous buildings sprung up between St. Pete Beach's once boarded-up Don Cesar and the Gulf of Mexico, nobody would have stepped in to bring it back to life. Same goes for St. Petersburg's Vinoy, which was only renovated after the city agreed to additional waterfront rooms, a marina and improvements in adjacent waterfront properties.
It's over for the Biltmore. Preservationists can keep hoping for their next Lazarus moment, but even Lazarus eventually died and stayed that way.
David Fraser, Clearwater
Dunedin votes against dredging | story, Jan. 26
Commissioners' heads are in mire
The three Dunedin city commissioners who voted against any further study to clarify the cleanup of Cedar Creek and Lake Sperry and then voted not to do anything more to rectify the enormous silting problem have their heads in that mire.
Commissioners Ron Barnette, Julie Scales and Heather Gracy all said, "We have to let nature take its course."
If that is the case, they should immediately vote to block the storm water drains the city directed into privately-owned Lake Sperry and block all the man-made canals that run through Hammock Park and dump silt into Cedar Creek. Then nature would take its course. The Hammock would revert to the swamp it once was and collect the mire now clogging the creek.
These commissioners do not understand that it is Dunedin's flawed water management plan that did not account for the sediment in storm water that caused the problem.
The state would not allow me to dump sediment into a tidal estuary, but apparently these three think that Dunedin can continue to do it without consequences.
They rely on the fact that the channel capacity conveyance is not yet compromised, but it will be. When residential storm water flooding occurs because the silted creek cannot handle the load, the city's liability will be far greater than any present projected costs.
Patricia Jennings, Dunedin
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