Re: Beach businesses want more from police, story, June 22.
Well, so does every other neighborhood! I recently had the privilege of attending the first Clearwater Neighborhoods Conference sponsored by a partnership of the Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition and the city of Clearwater. During an interactive session to demonstrate a method for neighborhood groups to find their priorities, it became quite apparent that in each of the several neighborhoods attending, policing and code enforcement were of great importance.
People want nice, safe places in which to live, work and play, and policing has a direct effect on the quality of life. Our city government wants to develop a lovely downtown and surrounding areas, but this plan will not be economically viable if the tourists and residents feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Increasing the number of proactive police officers, as well as the traditional reactive policing, would be a good investment for the entire city. People are what make development and redevelopment successful, and people will not visit and shop if they feel unsure of their well-being.
Public safety is given much lip-service in the city's brochure, "CLEARWATER, A Strategic Vision for Two Decades." However, with budget crunches, slots for more than 13 grant-funded community policing officers are eliminated and a small number of reactive police officers are being scattered throughout the city to respond to problem solving for our many neighborhoods. What is happening is that the police force is being overextended, thus diminishing and weakening its effectiveness. We are all losing out.
At a Skycrest Neighbors meeting recently, several residents spoke out that they are against a tax increase unless it would be specifically designated for increasing the number of police officers to improve the residents' feeling of security. People are willing to pay for their safety.
The city's plans for redevelopment are nice to behold, but they will not succeed without the basic building block of policing to ensure public safety. If public safety is improved and the appearances of blight in our fair city is removed, "they will come" with their dollars.
Elizabeth France, Clearwater
Largo's proposed property tax increase is excessive
Re: City proposes 22 percent tax increase, story, July 3.
Administrators in the city of Largo are talking about raising property taxes 22 percent for next year. I find this offensive and bold. Most of us who have to live within a budget, when finding ourselves in a shortfall, do without. I suggest the city of Largo try that idea.
Assessed valuations keep going up every year, thus the amount taxed goes up every year. Now you want to add 22 percent to that? I for one will not stand for it, and if it is passed, you will see a "For Sale" sign out in front of my home, and I hope there is a mass exodus out of Largo.
Greg Fudala, Largo
Development would adversely affect access to north beach
Re: Beach is enjoyable just as it is, letter, June 25.
In reference to the development of Bluewater Isle on East Shore Drive in Clearwater Beach, I am in agreement with letter writer Anne Garris' assessment that it would severely and adversely affect access to the north beach area. I also believe that the longtime presence of these plans is responsible for the less-than-effective design of the traffic circle, even if they were not totally addressed at the original planning sessions for the traffic circle.
Parking is also a very pertinent issue on the beach. Rather than use valuable beachfront property on the south beach for a view-blocking parking tower, would a garage spanning the causeway immediately east of the marina bridge be an acceptable alternative? Is the area stable enough to support such a structure? Can the land be obtained cheaper than other available sites directly on the island? Has the feasibility of such a solution even been considered?
I realize that there is no perfect solution for the many varied interests involved, but I truly hope that all possibilities will be considered in the quest for the greatest good.
Mark Doescher, Clearwater