I have been a resident of Clearwater Beach for nearly 53 years, so I feel I've earned the right to an opinion about beach issues. I can remember when there were no parking meters on the beach, far fewer motels and restaurants, and the south beach was an uninhabited strip of sand dunes where, as teens, we used to have wiener roasts, and _ gasp! _ go skinny-dipping at night.
"Day-trippers" have been a part of the beach scene for as long as I can remember and they also include citizens and taxpayers from the Clearwater mainland who have every right to use their beach and to spend as much or as little as they choose.
I was appalled at the greedy, arrogant attitudes expressed by the business owners in Diane Steinle's June 12 column, Day-trippers have a right to a day at the beach. They apparently believe not even Clearwater residents should use the beach unless they contribute to the profits of business owners. These kinds of merchants deserve to lose business.
I wonder if it ever occurred to our beach business owners and the City Commission that one of the reasons people do not spend more money at the beach is because they're angry at being ripped off by exorbitant parking fees and intimidated by asinine regulations. Clearwater Beach is hardly the visitor-friendly place it used to be, when a family could enjoy a day at the beach without spending an arm and a leg or worry about violating some moral code.
Maybe it's time we remember who the beach really belongs to and try to make them feel welcome for a change.
Robert B. Scott
The attitude of the business owners mentioned in Diane Steinle's column on day-trippers and Clearwater Beach is absolutely pathetic. No one coming to the beach for any length of time owes these tyrants anything.
This is the epitome of American greed and selfishness _ and a very naive view to say the least. As a resident of Clearwater, I have family, friends and business associates visiting once or twice a month. My guests always stay in a Clearwater motel. They also patronize restaurants, malls, nightclubs, museums, theaters, etc. We go on day trips to the beach. We fill the parking meters, eat lunch, buy souvenirs and may rent aquatic equipment on occasion. These people spend a lot of money and sometimes even return on vacation with their families.
I resent the attitude of these greedy, self-centered individuals who think the world owes them something. If their motels and businesses are not filled, then perhaps there is another reason: customer satisfaction. Perhaps these places are unappealing or substandard.
In the future, I will intentionally avoid patronizing any establishments where the prevailing attitude of the management is such and will ensure that my guests do likewise. What is the definition of a "real tourist" anyway?
Anthony J. Wolkoski
I would hope that Marysia Coates and Ken Rosenow and other Clearwater Beach merchants who dislike locals using "their" beach would be courteous enough to put signs in the windows of their businesses letting us know of their feelings.
That way we could give our "local" dollars to those merchants who respect their neighbors and want to help them enjoy their day at the beaches that belong to all of us.
On the other hand, maybe "local" merchants should not be able to operate a business there. Maybe only out-of-state merchants should be allowed to do business at Clearwater Beach.
Frank W. Russell
I would like to know what business Marysia Coates owns and what motel Ken Rosenow owns because I want to make sure I never patronize their businesses.
T. C. Hitchens
I can't believe what I'm reading! "Day trippers" have no business on the beach? Please, give me a break!
Those of us who live in the state of Florida, and most especially in Clearwater or the Tampa Bay area, do so because of the great environment here _ the weather, the sun and most especially, the beautiful beaches. We pay taxes to maintain this great state and the beautiful city of Clearwater.
How in the world any "merchant" can dare to suggest that the only people eligible to enjoy all of this beauty are "outsiders" who (presumably) are the only ones to spend their money at these establishments, is beyond my reasoning.
In truth, it is we, the citizens and residents of Clearwater, who "allow" these "outsiders" to come and also enjoy all our wonderful, natural beauty, thus creating an "opportunity" for the merchants to make a profit.
We also take our lunch hours at restaurants on the beach, bring our families to hotels for weekends on the beach, and always bring guests to the beach to proudly show it off to our visitors.
This kind of complaint only confirms my fear that in this generation we have completely forgotten that the best things in life are free. I trust that would include the sun, moon, stars, Gulf of Mexico and its beautiful, sandy beaches.
Irene O. Estes
Your column on Clearwater Beach was right on the money. What you should do now is ask all the people who visit the beach to boycott the beach for one day. Then see how they all scream when no one shows. That happened one time when I was in the service. They put the town off limits. No one could go on liberty. The town realized where its money was coming from.
When I have visitors from up North, they all ask about Clearwater Beach, so we spend the day there.
I live in Spring Hill, and I take my granddaughter and her friends to Clearwater Beach often. We brought friends to Clearwater Beach, and they in turn brought friends who ate there and bought souvenirs.
We pay parking fees, pay for gas at one of the stations on U.S. 19, and stop in stores as we are going to the beach.
Have you ever gone to a beach where teenagers didn't want to buy something? And oh yes, if the restaurants are complaining, how about them bringing their prices down?
Merchants don't own the beaches. Try to keep the Floridians and teenagers out, then see what happens.
For more than 25 years I visited your beaches, stayed in your motels and spent a lot of money in your city.
Now I live here and I'm a "day-tripper" at least once a week. I put money in your parking meters (which don't work half the time), spend money in your shops, and eat and drink in your restaurants.
Since you don't want me as a "day-tripper," does that also mean you don't want my money or my tax dollars?
Incidentally, if you cleaned up your filthy motels, maybe more people would stay there.
Mrs. Carl Mazorek
My hands are sore from clapping so hard in applauding Diane Steinle's terrific column, Day-trippers have a right to a day at the beach.
I, too, have read recent complaints from our beach's merchants. I always feel they also mean us _ Clearwater's residents. We, too, spend a day at the beach, and always thought we, the public, owned the beach, not the business owners or the city.
I'm so glad we have someone on our side to clarify our rights.
Patricia M. Daggett
I own a home, I work in Florida, I pay my bills, I have a right as a resident of this wonderful Sunshine State to visit our beaches any time. I live in Florida because of them, so I can drive to any coast and spend the day on the beach.
If natives/transplants were not allowed on the beaches, it would be a violation of my rights as a citizen to go where I wanted to go. I will not let anyone, especially merchants, tell me that I cannot visit the beaches when I choose to do so. I challenge them to go out on the beaches on a weekend and ask how many of the beachgoers are day-trippers. I am sure they will find that the largest percentage of them are their very own neighbors.
Perhaps we should ask all residents to stop buying Slurpees, hot dogs, beer, chips, T-shirts and the like when they are going to the beach. This would show these tactless people where their real money is coming from.
Your article on the issue of day visitors and Clearwater Beach was great! I could hardly believe anyone would want to keep the beach from those who live in the city and counties or towns nearby. I don't know of any other place that does this.
Day visitors buy a lot in the shops and eat a lot. They are the primary users of the umbrellas, etc. They are more likely than a motel visitor to stay all day and therefore buy more beach merchandise.
This is in response to some business owners who have declared that local non-tourists are not welcome on Clearwater Beach.
Before becoming a resident of the area, for years I stayed at the hotels on Clearwater Beach. Now as a "day-tripper," I continue to spend money at the beach and tell all my Michigan friends to stay at Clearwater Beach when on vacation.
For anyone to suggest that day-trippers should pay an extra fee (toll) for using our public beach is, of course, outrageous. This clearly is discrimination of the worst kind. I wonder if these beach border guards will allow this day-tripper, who put on the uniform and survived the Vietnam era, to enter their beach as a non-tourist?
Progress can come about only when people stop advocating closing the beach to local residents, who pay much of the taxes supporting our public beaches, and collectively develop ways to benefit all concerned with positive ideas and suggestions.