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Article needed more research

Re: Eating dust, losing customers, story, Nov. 15

I was disappointed reading the article by staff writer Mike Donila. He could have researched and written more than just an article about a couple of businesses undergoing hardship because of dust and heavy construction along Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater.

The streetscape construction not only will revive a tired area, but will also replace the old utility infrastructure beneath the walks and roadway. This will allow new businesses and urban residences to spring up when the streetscape is finished.

Most downtown stakeholders support the project and believe that the new pedestrian-friendly environment will be good for the vitality of the city. While some merchants are concerned about the dust and inconvenience today, they must also be aware that the huge investment in the downtown area, both public and private, signals a strong commitment to the downtown corridor.

The Downtown Development Board, a seven-member board elected by downtown property owners, has put many programs in place to help merchants and property owners. The alternate entrance grant program gives money to merchants who fix up an alternate entrance to make the business more convenient to customers during construction. The parking token program covers parking expenses in garages for customers of merchants affected by the construction.

The facade improvement grant program, business recognition award program, funding of a downtown marketing study and branding of Cleveland Street are just a few of the many programs the DDB underwrites to help our downtown merchants.

The DDB, not the city, funded the construction of the large banners and sandwich board signs that were mentioned in the article. These signs have been approved by the city Community Development department as legal under our current city codes and will be installed soon.

It's hard to run a business when construction hampers accessibility to customers, but construction inconveniences happen almost everywhere throughout Clearwater. Our downtown merchants and property owners have a network of partners and organizations that offer support. Along with the DDB, the Community Redevelopment Agency , Main Street organization, the Clearwater Downtown Partnership and the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce all take an interest and offer support to merchants in the downtown corridor.

The real benefit of the project is the finished product. Much like a home improvement project, the inconvenience, noise and dust are tolerated because the finished product will deliver such a great improvement for merchants as well as residents.

The streetscape project is running ahead of schedule, and we can look forward to seeing the end results sooner than originally planned.

David Allbritton, chairman, Downtown Development Board, Clearwater

Product labels tell national story

The other day a good veteran was sitting in the hot sun in front of one of our supermarkets, offering a flag for a donation, as they do every year.

I'm a vet also and did my duty and got my flag.

Once home, I happened to inspect it more carefully. Printed on very thin, transparent plastic and attached to a 10-inch plastic straw, the flag had the right number of stars and stripes. But in small print on the edge of the flag was, "Made in China."

Does anyone care anymore? Is there a company in this whole country that can supply the VFW with flags made in the United States without going bankrupt?

Some day you may find your paper currency stamped "Made in China." Almost everything else is.

Harry W. Zutell, Tarpon Springs

Re: Two teens arrested in vandalism, story, Nov. 14

Father hiding son sets bad example

Is it any wonder our teens are destructive today when the father of one has sent his son out of Pinellas County and won't cooperate?

Shame, shame on this father!

Do the right thing and bring your son back to face up to what he has done, or keep quiet and visit him in prison in the future. This father should be made to do charity work to open up his eyes. Parents need to set examples and not aid and abet.

Joy Ortman, Largo

Re: CarePages: Lifeline for patients, others, story, Nov. 22

Web pages for patients are great

Nice article on CarePages! I, too, used the Web-based Care- Pages to communicate to family and friends during my recent breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and radiation treatment.

I'm also keeping up-to-date with a friend's progress during her continuing cancer treatment.

I didn't use CarePages as frequently as Genevieve Riley does. I kept my own private journal to record my emotional journey. However, as she says in the article, using CarePages certainly beats having to make numerous calls to update everyone.

It's a great service!

Diane Kornick, Clearwater

Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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