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Clearwater needs new plan to save city

Published Oct. 12, 2005

Editor: With all the important decisions that must be made soon regarding Clearwater's future, I feel it would be foolish not to consider all of our needs and desires as one whole picture rather than piecemeal. Please consider the following scenario:

1. The city purchases the SunBank building and consolidates all services there. The first floor is leased to the Chamber of Commerce where it decorates to the max with huge photos of our beautiful city's many amenities and, of course, promotional brochures of area businesses.

2. The Maas site is one of the city's most valuable assets. Therefore, it should be put to its highest and best use. We should sell this property for its real value to a proven successful retail developer who will create a hub of activity with upscale restaurants, clubs and shops.

Ideally the plan would include ample open patio space overlooking the water, making it conducive to city promotions like the jazz festival, etc. I would love to see a boardwalk and marina along with the ferry on the waterfront as well.

3. The ideal home for the Florida Gulf Coast Art Center would be the old Kapok Tree restaurant on McMullen-Booth Road. The grounds can be lovely and the building still has magnificent character, a perfect setting for an art museum.

By having the art center near Ruth Eckerd Hall, we would be creating an "arts district," a whole bastion of activity. Both projects would indeed feed off each other, not to mention how the restaurants and other retailers in the area would flourish.

4. Lastly, why not have another Pinellas Trail along the beaches from Clearwater to Tierra Verde? What a marvelous enrichment to our outdoor lifestyles. In addition to the pleasure it would bring to those of us who would use it, think of how less congested Gulf Boulevard would be if all the walkers, bikers and skaters were on another path.

Most important, the above plan would increase foot traffic to downtown, plus add more appeal and culture by having an "arts district." Both areas would come alive with business and job opportunities. All this increases the city's tax base, which translates into more money for schools, roads, etc.

To even consider building a new city hall anywhere, especially away from downtown, when we have a city of empty buildings available would be ludicrous.

Plus, to "give away" the Maas property to any entity that will not substantially increase foot traffic/income flow to downtown would be equally foolish. Please save our dying city now. Don't help it commit suicide!

Cheryl Toth, Clearwater

Cigarettes should have

biodegradable filters

Editor: Smokers versus non-smokers. We are beginning to see the squeeze play put into action because of the detrimental effects smokers have on themselves and on non-smokers and the environment in general.

Here is a suggestion that I think merits your consideration. Ask readers to write to their congressmen requesting that legislation be put into effect immediately making it mandatory for all cigarette manufacturers to make and sell cigarettes with only biodegradable filters.

If we can put a man on the moon, cultivate man-made pearls and make synthetic diamonds, why not biodegradable filters and help clean up our sidewalks, parking lots and roadways?

Earl Bonney, Largo