I want to compliment you on your A-section editorial June 8, Bay Plaza folly. It is too bad your editorial staff at the Clearwater Times doesn't have your foresight, or maybe it is hindsight.
I have been a Clearwater watchdog for five years with an eye on the prudent use of the taxpayer's dollar. Clearwater already has one boondoggle similar to Bay Plaza, only on a much smaller scale. I'm referring to the East End project.
The city over a period of five or six years acquired land around the City Hall Annex at Cleveland Street and Missouri Avenue. It paid as much as $18 per square foot for some parcels and has approximately 15 acres including the annex at a total cost exceeding $4-million.
This has cost the taxpayers approximately $400,000 a year in lost interest and taxes over the last five years. The city has been attempting to market this property for development for at least four years without success. Now the Community Redevelopment Agency has hired consultants who have proposed a 15- to 20-year redevelopment plan for the downtown core that will cost between $200-million and $300-million, in my estimation. Key elements include a 19-acre downtown lake with retail or residential units around it, a two-level underground parking structure north of the Harborview Center, a new library on the lake and a four-lane fixed bridge to Clearwater Beach from the Drew Street and Osceola Avenue intersection.
The proposed Capital Improvement Program for 1995-96 through 2000-2001 includes $23.5-million bonds for the bridge in 1995-96 and 1996-97. This will cost taxpayers $1.5-million in debt service for each year over the next 20 years.
The proposed downtown lake championed by the Clearwater Times will cost about $25-million, for another $1.5-million per year of debt service over the next 20 years.
Even if we eliminate or postpone either the lake or the bridge, it is projected to cost the taxpayers in excess of a 25 percent increase over the next two years. I say enough is enough.
Robert W. Wright
Letter writer should give downtown a try
The recent letter from Robert Snow criticizing Clearwater Assistant City Manager Bill Baker's inventive idea for a downtown lake exemplifies the trouble we face in our city.
Mr. Snow states that beautiful Coachman Park is an expensive, unused park. Has he been to any of the many concerts the Parks and Recreation Department sponsors at the park when thousands turn out for an enjoyable evening of music and fun?
He also criticizes the bureaucrats who put parking meters downtown. Sorry, Mr. Snow, but those same bureaucrats removed the downtown parking meters some time ago. When did he last spend time downtown?
The problem is not "visionary" plans from City Hall. The problem is not enough people giving downtown Clearwater a chance to prove what it can be. Instead of heading for the mall, Mr. Snow should give downtown merchants a chance. He might like it and come back!
As for the downtown lake, if given a fair chance, it can work without soaking the taxpayers.
Donald R. Ford
Chain gang linked to no-nonsense past
Since Alabama reinstituted the chain gang, many bleeding hearts have expressed their outrage.
Being old enough (83) to recall how judges in the past sentenced criminals to a number of years at hard labor, it is refreshing to find at least one state that realizes the great amenities provided to the criminals are not appropriate and should be withdrawn. In addition to reducing the cost of maintaining the prisons, this should help to impress upon them that prison is not a place to relax and enjoy the largesse of the taxpayer.
I hope more states, as well as the U.S. government, will follow the lead of Alabama. I trust Florida will be close behind Alabama in this respect.
John S. Cole
Editor should leave theorizing to scientists
Re: Bill Coats' column on dolphins.
What an interesting piece of fiction! Perhaps if the column is to be believed, we could stop wasting our tax money on scientists and start investing in editors instead.
Is it possible that dolphin-kind thinks in as literate and deliberate terms as Mr. Coats suggests? No doubt the dolphins' beaching was a conscious attempt by the leader to find some "Brave New SeaWorld," only to run into the dolphin equivalent of falling off the edge of the ocean _ I mean, earth.
It is doubtful that the leader of the pod had been overcome by parasites or old age and merely lost his way, with the others in tow unaware of the impairment. So maybe they were just playing a difficult game of follow the leader and everybody lost. It is not unheard of in the animal kingdom. Particularly with lemmings.
But lots of animals that mass together in a school, pod, pride, flock, herd, etc., are led astray by a misguided leader. I'm sure this phenomenon is restricted to animals. I shudder to think what would happen if it occurred in humans.
In any case, I will ask my friends in the scientific community to refrain from editing if I can get the editors of the world to refrain from postulating. That is what scientists do, you know. Postulate. They postulate and theorize the outcomes of unknowns and then set out to prove (and sometimes to disprove) these unknowns. This is how we arrive at facts.
I will ask them to refrain from editing anyway, because dolphins are apparently as deliberate as editors. And science requires a different discipline.
John M. Lowe