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Waterfront property should be preserved

The resigned and cynical tone of the editorial, Buying waterfront tract difficult, Nov. 9 came as a surprise to me and I'm sure to thousands of people throughout Pinellas County and beyond who support the preservation of the last sizable tract of undeveloped coastal waterfront in our county. I was also taken aback by the misrepresentations and flawed thinking contained in the piece.

First, the term "impulse buying" in relation to the McMullen property implies that this property is new to the county's agenda. In fact, this particular property has topped the county's wish list for many years.

Second, you wonder about the willingness of residents to pay higher taxes to support the purchase of this property. Let me remind you that Pinellas County voters have already agreed to pay higher taxes in the form of Penny for Pinellas to be used for just such land purchases.

County commissioners and administrators should see this matter in its proper long-term perspective. Once this land is surrendered to development, its value as a wildlife preserve and its contribution to the quality of the environment will be lost forever. The opportunity to make this purchase comes only once.

With the stakes so high and the public support so broad, surely some way can be found to overcome the financial difficulty of buying this property. Commissioners do not have to look to county resources alone. Besides state and federal funding programs, individual supporters and nongovernmental organizations have been and will continue seeking ways to assist our county government in securing the necessary funds.

The question to ask is not whether residents are willing to be tapped for the money to make this purchase possible. Rather, we should ask, will our county commissioners and administrators be willing to work hard and be creative to seize this rare opportunity?

Third, the idea that the residents of northern Pinellas County have no right to protest the prospect of development on the McMullen property is silly. Of course they reside on developed land that was once pristine. Don't we all? Such accusations are constructed to deflect a more serious question: Are the only interests that count in deciding land uses the ones that foster development and growth?

Responsible development and growth play an important role in our community. But it is a mistake to assume that development and growth alone provide all that is required to define a desirable quality of life.

It would be a mistake to attribute the "aghast" response of residents at the prospect of unrelenting development in their neighborhood as simply the selfish bleating of an isolated few. You may find that this response is shared by a vast majority of residents in our crowded county.

The citizens of our county who support the acquisition of this land for preservation are not resigned and cynical. Our president has urged us to engage in local issues and participate in our communities to preserve our cherished values. We have risen to his challenge. Now we need our local leaders to do the same.

No doubt, we have a storm on our hands: a budgetary maelstrom. The tragic events of Sept. 11 have brought us to war, accelerated economic decline and caused our governmental budgets to suffer. But we must not let short-term difficulties rob us of the wherewithal to do the right thing for the long term. The right thing in this case is to preserve the natural heritage of our county for residents and visitors now and for years to come.

Amy M. Komlos, Palm Harbor

Let the volunteers hear the jazz

Re: Jazz Holiday needs improvements, letter, Oct. 25.

I was appalled and angry after reading the writer's comments. My husband and I, along with several friends, have volunteered at the Jazz Holiday for all of the five years that we have lived in Clearwater. We do so because of the excitement of the event, the talent that is presented and the opportunity to be a participant in the Clearwater community.

Unlike the writer, we cannot find a place to sit when we finish our volunteer time on Saturday nights (when the headliner is performing) because all the good seating has been taken by those who were lucky enough to get seated in the early afternoon. The area that is provided for the VIP tents is, of course, a given. They are supporters, and they deserve "the best seats in the house."

Perhaps those VIPs who have been providing the letter writer with VIP passes during the past eight years should consider this year giving their extra tickets to some of the volunteers, who would really be appreciative and not complain that they can't see the Intracoastal, that the seats are dirty and that the portable toilets are too close!

Volunteers would like just to be able to hear the entertainers from their places in the booths where they are giving their time to support the Jazz Holiday. When we are in the food, merchandise, beer and wine tents, we can't see or hear the performers while we are working, as we don't have any speakers directed toward our tents.

We, as a group, will never volunteer again if the food, drink and merchandise tents are moved even farther away from the music and festivities.

Sandy Evans, Clearwater

New stores might be the right formula

Re: Downtown shows signs of vitality, editorial, Nov. 7.

Kudos to Lee Arnold, Starbucks and Publix, all of whom are making or have made moves to develop downtown Clearwater. Each of these projects will bring a much-needed commodity to downtown: people.

There have been many attempts to populate our downtown, none of which have succeeded because of one shortcoming or another. But this time one gets the feeling that these entrepreneurs have done their homework on needed projects and with the blessing of City Hall. I certainly hope so.

Fred Nassif, Clearwater

Dreamers help Clearwater's progress

Re: Downtown shows signs of vitality, editorial, Nov. 7.

It's great to see progress in downtown Clearwater. It's high time someone took a risk and poured their sweat, blood, heart and money into a venture designed to bring people to the downtown area.

But wait. Isn't that what the owners of Club More did? And what was their reward? To be forced to close their business when parking was unavailable.

Fear not, though. That great building on Franklin Street is just waiting for the right developer to come along and turn it into something the city wants. Progress is great _ for some. For others it is bitter frustration and anger.

Long live the dreamers who are willing to put their money where their mouth is _ especially when they risk it all.

Greg Turman, Dunedin

Trick-or-treaters were a delight

I can understand and sympathize with the parents who kept their children in Halloween night, but as a person in her 90s who doesn't get around much anymore, I want to thank all the trick-or-treaters who brightened the day for me. Those who came included a witch, Superman himself and even two toddlers in strollers _ pushed by their parents, of course.

We expected few, if any, so our supply of treats ran out before 9 o'clock, although the children were still coming.

Thank you, trick-or-treaters. See you next Halloween, God willing.

Alice Lyon McKenzie, Clearwater

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