I support expanding the park and gardens and leasing the perimeterfor retail, residences and restaurants. I'd investigate using katahdin sheep to cut the grass (Tampa Electric Co. uses them). I oppose the additions made after the referendum which threaten to overwhelm the green space and drive up the cost, like the 4,000-seat amphitheater, sound and light show, and pagoda. I believe the $64 million projected cost is too high and I’d want to reduce that by at least $15 million. The City Council approved a $30 million bond, and $25 million is coming from other sources. With elimination of the downtown parking garage from the Penny for Pinellas project list, this money can go to Imagine Clearwater. Eliminating the outsized amphitheater and unncessary library renovations ($20 million total) would bring the project in below budget, with money left to improve the bandshell. Under no circumstances should the city sell any more of its land.
There are elements of the project I like, for instance the play area, splash pads and music pavilion. I do not like the wastewater area. Unless it is managed very well there will be odor issues. I think the reduction of parking for the marina is a terrible mistake. I believe the bandshell and covering should be moved to the north end of the park and oriented toward the library to mitigate noise issues. We have to have something in the park that is a draw to downtown. This cannot be a passive park, which will not have the desired result. I would be willing to sell the aquarium and city hall property but not Harborview. I think all the parcels should go through an RFP process along with others and turned over to a large developer for a master plan that would have a greater impact. I would also pursue Tourist Development Council and state dollars to help pay for the project.
A. I support the Imagine Clearwater project as conceived by the community in 2017, adopted by the Council on (March 16, 2017) and approved by 75% at the referendum in November of 2017. I. The Council recognized that Imagine Clearwater improvements would require voter referendum approval. II. In order to maximize voter approval an extensive public conceptual design included spending $378,000 and seven months to develop a “citizens plan” for Coachman Park. III. That effort developed the following vision statement: “The Downtown Clearwater waterfront will be an active, authentic, iconic civic and open space that celebrates Clearwater’s history, natural beauty, culture, and diversity and anchors and economically vibrant downtown.” B. The current plan includes the large and expensive amphitheater roof and banquet facility at the library. Unless either has a clearly identified ROI (return on investment), it should be removed. In forty years only one night of Jazz Holiday has been cancelled because of bad weather. C. The Tampa Bay Times on April 4, 2019 stated, “It would not be in the public interest to build a venue that overwhelms the entire downtown Clearwater waterfront.” I agree with this statement and believe this concern has not been adequately addressed. D. Webb Management Services recommended a venue of 2,500 people. This is more in keeping with venues like the Tallahassee Cascade amphitheater. E. Residents I talk to look to Imagine Clearwater as an investment of residential taxes for a facility that benefits primarily residents every day of the year. This is what the conceptual plan detailed. F. As to funding, I would favor a smaller bond in addition to currently set aside Penny and reserve funding.
I support redoing Coachman Park, but I feel we have lost sight of the original idea. I don't support the current Imagine Clearwater (project) and I definitely do not support the amphitheater.
The plans are beautiful but we have no guarantee the project will be successful in luring people downtown or simply become something that primarily benefits Scientology, an organization that has chased people away from downtown for decades. The city is determined to partner with Scientology even though each time we have tried, the leadership has stabbed us in the back and undermined the city's goals. For example, when they opposed moving the (Clearwater Marine Aquarium) downtown and then viciously attacked (departing CEO) David Yates for not selling the aquarium land to them. I would require Scientology to commit through a non-refundable bond that they will carry through with promises made in the Freedom Magazine they delivered to every household in the city. David Miscavige said he and Tom Cruise would personally bring a movie theater chain and a nightclub to the two properties which Miscavige recently admitted in the Tampa Bay Times that Scientology has purchased. Only when they have proven they will provide something beneficial to the city and put up the money should we move forward. Short of that we need to scale back the plans for the covered amphitheater to reduce cost. We voted for a park for locals, not for a massive amphitheater for tourists. The costs continue to rise and likely won't stop as we proceed. How many homes could be repainted with that $64 million dollars? How many porches fixed or ceilings patched? We could help fix up our many neighborhoods with that sorely needed money.
The $64 million Imagine Clearwater downtown waterfront redevelopment plan has been met with public criticism over issues like increased parking shortages, disproportionate allocation of resources and insufficient public input. The core of the public criticism in Imagine Clearwater originates in the public's perception that the 2017 passed referendum has changed and differs from their voted intent. As an elected official I will ensure we as a city stay committed to fulfilling the voters intent and vision through the inclusion of citizen input and fiscal responsibility without mortgaging our children's futures on a project too costly to the taxpayers.
I support improving Clearwater's publicly owned waterfront in ways that it will better accommodate a wide-variety of programs and activities and benefit all of the citizens of Clearwater. Music and concerts have been an important part of the history and a significant draw to Coachman Park, but the city must do a better job of showing the community that the improvements will enable a much broader program and activities that will involve many demographics. It is important that our citizens better understand the proposed uses to justify the expense. Every dollar spent on the project should be done carefully, wisely and to maximize either economic impact or community benefit. The city should also budget carefully for operating expenses so that this long-term community asset and investment does not deteriorate quickly. I have professional experience in working with communities to right-size the cost of similar projects to effectively meet community needs. I would work with other council members and the city manager to analyze each aspect of the project to find savings and ways to adjust the project to better meet the needs of the community. It is not uncommon for communities to find significant cost savings through that process. I often see communities that are successful with these kinds of projects find creative and collaborative ways to fund construction costs. We should look for the best, not the easiest, way for the city to fund the project and minimize the expense to Clearwater citizens and taxpayers as much as possible.
Is it an amphitheater or is it a park? Are there more urgent needs that $64 million could serve? It is essential that we further reach out to our residents. First inform them more fully and second to get their input and act accordingly.
I support Imagine Clearwater. I hope that as we progress on this project we take advantage of the natural bluff and beauty of our waterfront parks. I will push for a sustainable project and one that offers multiple uses to attract citizens from across the city. For instance, a splash pad, a coffee shop or concession stand, etc. We are 30 percent completed so we can adjust as a community to achieve best results.
I do support the effort to create an attraction for Clearwater residents and tourists to enjoy that is located at our beautiful downtown location. But I have a number of key concerns that are shared by many residents. First, design modifications are needed to sizably reduce costs, to offset any need for additional funding. The size of the entertainment pavilion should be revisited to align more with expert and resident recommendations, which means smaller. We can also incorporate solar and energy efficient designs to lower ongoing costs, which is being done in other cities. Second, more parking and better public transportation is needed that addresses both the park and downtown business needs that limit their success. Currently, this is not a priority. Lastly, emphasis should be placed on enough green space and activity areas to attract families. The park should be first for residents to enjoy on a daily basis. We are paying for it.
I support the project. It was passed overwhelmingly by public referendum; I do not recommend adjusting it. Monies will not come by increased taxes; we anticipate funding from city bonds, Penny 3 and Penny 4, (tax increment financing); operating expenses have a number of funding sources including income from Osceola/Bluff commercial development on leased city property and private or corporate sponsorship of events. Two-thirds of park will be green space including gardens, splash pads at the north end; on the south beautiful water retention ponds, gazebos for public including tribute pagoda in honor of our 50 (plus) year Japanese sister city, Nagano, Japan. In the middle, an improved pavilion to attract local, regional and national artists and events. Stage will be covered to protect events from elements. Part of the audience will be covered and include removable seating (seating as we do now, on a smaller scale). A bluff walk will be built from Drew Street to Pierce (Street). At Cleveland (Street) and S Osceola (Avenue), a new entrance to the expanded park. Parking will be available for day-to-day visitors and the marina; additional parking is and will be built downtown Clearwater for larger events. A shuttle system, valet parking and other transportation is being considered to accommodate all. Bottom line, we want a park, not a parking lot at Clearwater Harbor/Coachman Park. Green, not concrete, will prevail.
I am in support of the Imagine Clearwater project with the proviso that we do not mortgage our children's future.
I have major concerns with the Imagine Clearwater project. First, this is not the same project that was presented to voters when it was placed on the ballot. It seems like they decided to grow the project and want to figure out how to pay for it later. Many adjustments need to be made to bring down the cost of this project.