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Lack of enthusiasm for redevelopment is no surprise

EDITOR'S NOTE: The letters on this page are about downtown Clearwater redevelopment plans.

Re: Downtown plan a no-go, poll hints, story, May 13.

Should developer George de Guardiola really be surprised by the recent poll showing a lack of support for downtown refurbishing? Older residents, as the poll showed, are less than enthusiastic about the development plan. Could the reason be that, as they have grown old or retired here, their quality of life has been put on the back burner in favor of tourism and making visitors happy?

Mr. de Guardiola should compare the appearance of the neighborhoods within a 3-mile radius of our downtown with similar properties in the other affluent communities in which he has worked. This is a different ballgame here. This is a city of special interests where full-time residents get little consideration of their needs.

Since their arrival in the 1970s, Scientologists have made little or no effort to integrate themselves into our city. High-end shopping and condos downtown will not change that.

Save the Bayfront is not keeping this project from becoming reality. Look back to the number of positive questionnaires at the forums; they represented a minute percentage of eligible voters.

With the city manager essentially divorcing himself from this plan now that it is on shaky ground, the developer is left holding the bag. Had the developer done his homework on this community's longtime administrative problems, the public relations effort might have been completely different.

Until this city opens its eyes to internal shortcomings and tones down its external apple-polishing, referendums benefitting outsiders will always have rough sledding.

Steve Guss, Clearwater

Downtown could become showplace

As an architectural student at the University of Florida, I was blown away by the creativity and scope of the redesign for downtown Clearwater. As a member of this community since my birth, I am excited that the downtown area finally will be a place where I can live, work and do business.

What a tragedy for it to remain the ghost town it is, when the downtown sits on the most beautiful tract of land in the state. The design will create usable spaces for all ages. I really like how the architects designed the buildings to blend with the historical buildings we already have.

Once those citizens who used to travel to Ybor City, Hyde Park or the malls see this, and those of us who want to live in a downtown setting move in, the Scientologists will be hard to distinguish from non-Scientologists.

It is time for this city to move forward and for young people to have a place to live and grow in the community of tomorrow.

Jeffrey A. Finn, Clearwater

Project another form of taxpayer abuse

First there was Harborview Center _ $10-million overrun. Then came the roundabout _ more millions. Now the bluff _ more millions. Then will come the new bridge _ more millions.

These past, current and future fiascoes are brought to us by the same type of people, using the same type of reasoning and for the same type of motives. What did the taxpayers of Clearwater ever do to deserve the treatment that we have received, are receiving and will receive from the leadership of Clearwater?

Richard Bauersachs, Clearwater

Group's motives are misguided

Re: Downtown plan a no-go, poll hints, May 13.

I couldn't believe that citizens would actually say they do not want Clearwater to have a nice downtown. This group only wants to save a parking lot! They don't care about promoting business even though a new downtown would bring all kinds of taxes.

Save the Bayfront also must be against our schools, which get most of our property tax dollars. What an inheritance this group wants to leave for the children of Clearwater.

Heather Brown, Clearwater

Plan for movie theater gets laughs

Re: Harborview might be thorn in Clearwater plan, story, May 14.

The article gave me a chuckle! Clearwater just can't get it right no matter how hard it tries.

First, they had an inept city manager (they've probably had more than one, but who is counting?) whose area of expertise was supposed to be finance. She overran the budget for Harborview by almost $9-million. Now, city officials also want movie theaters. Have they not paid attention to what happened to other multiplex theaters? They shut down because there aren't that many good movies made anymore.

Dorothy Slupski, Largo

Group fighting project spreads lies

Save the Bayfront should be more appropriately named Destroy Clearwater. This group of people, by spreading their misinformation, is doing more to continue downtown Clearwater's slide into a ghost town than anyone else.

Their position is beyond reason. Why would any person who cares about Clearwater reject $300-million in private money to beautify and revitalize our city? Their great lie is that our tax money will be used. It will not!

Don't let the lies of a confused group take you in.

Richard Erwin, Clearwater

Clearwater lagging behind neighbors

To anyone who fears change in our downtown, look around you. Tampa has begun improvements, and so has St. Petersburg on its waterfront. Dunedin is moving ahead and even Safety Harbor. They made the choice to move forward, and look at the rewards!

It is our turn! Why on earth would you vote anything but "yes" for redevelopment? Please hurry.

Kat Harrell, Clearwater

Harborview mistakes could be repeated

Most of the letters published in the May 9 opinion section focused on the visual aspects of the proposed redevelopment plans for downtown Clearwater and overlooked two very important behind-the-scenes aspects for Clearwater taxpayers:

+ Does City Hall have the staff to protect taxpayers' funds with contract audit controls over the numerous construction contracts that will be required for the 14 to 16 months of Phase I?

+ The Harborview Center project had the financial controls of a sieve. Two of the city commissioners at that time are on the current City Commission.

Hal H. Ebersole, Clearwater

Growth will let Scientology blend in

I totally agree with the letter writers who said we cannot abandon our city to any one organization. When I hear people say we are building only for the Scientologists, it is the most depressing, hopeless thinking I have ever heard.

There are many cities in the country that are vibrant and alive and dominated by one group _ say, areas where there are large populations of college students or one business organization. The fact is, when there is economic vitality, other people blend in.

Let's not give up because we think our city has a unique problem that we cannot deal with. An exciting redevelopment is the solution to monopolization. The only problem that is unsolveable is giving up before even starting.

Robin Hagerbuch, Clearwater

Downtown redevelopment a no-brainer

All right, folks. Enough petty excuses, stalling and sidetracking. There are two choices: Continue with our half-deserted, asphalt-ridden, outdated and unsafe downtown or opt for change and have a bustling, beautiful, clean, fun and family-friendly downtown. Gee, which one do I choose?

Frank Carriera, Clearwater

Trying to set the record straight

After reading the letters concerning the downtown redevelopment, I was pleased to see that so many reflect my excitement for the plans. I would like to point out a few misstatements that would appear to be shared by a small group:

+ All necessary Americans with Disabilities Act requirements will be met and complied with so that the stairs and all other areas of the redevelopment are totally accessible to all.

+ The city is not giving away public park or bayfront. It is being enlarged.

+ We are not developing the bluff. It is already developed _ and poorly. The redevelopment will improve what is already there: the library, park, etc.

+ We are not giving public land away. We will still own our land and will lease it to the developer. The public will still have use of the area.

Stacey Baker, Clearwater

"Average Joe' happy with progress

Thank you for your fair articles about downtown redevelopment. I am an "average Joe" and have had the pleasure of taking part in some of the many opportunities to give input in the process. Most developers just forge ahead with no citizen input, but that was not the case here.

I hope citizens realize that our beautiful Coachman Park and bayfront are being greatly enlarged and that we are not giving away our bluff (as we are now to the homeless), but we will be leasing it in a trade for improvements that all will enjoy. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our city!

Sarah Ohr, Clearwater