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Clearwater Chamber supports long-range planning for beach

I would like to commend our Clearwater City Commission for itswillingness to develop a special long-range plan for our beach community.

Our No. 1 industry in Clearwater is tourism. It provides approximately $670-million in revenue to our city annually and more than 20,000 jobs. Its continuing success is vital to our future.

The success of this industry has created a dilemma for our full-time residents, business owners, local visitors to our beach and even the tourists we depend upon so heavily.

The problems include traffic congestion, parking availability, rowdyism, zoning concerns and just generally maintaining a comfortable lifestyle while promoting the No. 1 industry that our future is so reliant upon.

We have a window of opportunity in front of us. With the assistance of the Clearwater Chamber's West Area Council, an independent beach planning group was formed and has made some very good suggestions to the commission, including the formation of a blue ribbon long-range planning task force.

On Feb. 1 the commission approved forming this long-range study team.

The Clearwater Chamber is 100 percent behind the creation of a

comprehensive long-range plan for our beach community, and we have two main concerns we have asked the commissioners to address: 1. Prior to selecting personnel, we asked city officials to develop a mission statement stating, as specifically as possible, what they want the task force to address, yet leaving it free to develop additional recommendations if it so desires.

2. We feel the selection of personnel to staff this task force should be done solely on the task force members' ability to objectively accomplish the mission statement. We need to be careful not to appoint those who mean well but who will not bring practical or technical expertise to the table.

Those in the "practical" category should include representatives of resident and business groups and organizations familiar with the problems facing our beach who are willing to put the time and effort into solving them.

There are other beach plans on the shelves gathering dust. This mission must be undertaken by both the city and the task force with a high level of seriousness and commitment or conditions are destined to get worse.

The outcome of this plan will set the stage for our beach community for the next five to 15 years.

I challenge the commission to do its best possible job in developing the mission statement and selecting personnel for this most important task. The future of our beach is in its hands.

David Stone is president of the Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce.