CLEARWATER -- A top member of the Clearwater city staff and council members scrambled Monday morning at the City Council's work session meeting to undo the misimpession they had made at last week's meeting regarding a new marina, and then threw in a pie in the ski promise.
At the August 22 meeting which in part consisted of a review of capital improvement projects, Tina Wilson, the city's budget director, said that $2 million that had been in the capital improvements for such a marina to be paid with Penny for Pinellas funds was eliminated.
This was obviously news to Councilmember Bill Jonson who blurted out, his voice rising, "You're not going to do it?"
Wilson said the $2 million could be better used in other ways at which point Assistant City Manager Gary Brumback chimed in with, "Two million dollars wouldn't cover the cost to begin with and we have a real use for that money."
Brumback added at that time that he thought the marina adjacent at the foot of Cleveland Street "looks like a Penny three project" referring to phase three of the Penny for Pinllas tax which may or not take place after 2010.
It was Brumback at Monday's meeting who referred to an inaccurate report on the marina. It was a classic case of "blame the messenger."
The message is what happened last Monday and the messenger is the Clearwater Gazette & Beach Views which accurately detailed that message.
The backtracking Monday morning, of course was designed to undo the misimpression created a week previously. It was aimed at the public -- none of whom were at Monday's meeting -- and the TV audience.
Obviously, Jonson was under the impression that marina plans had been scrapped which, indeed, they have.
In fact, the marina was not a reality. Councilmember John Doran set forth the situation clearly Monday, an action he didn't bother to make a week ago.
"The two million dollars never had anything to do with the marina," Doran said.
Actually, plans for a marina along the city's waterfront were part of an overall development plan that was defeated in a referendum.
In all the talk of the $2 million last week no one pointed that out leaving the public with the misinformation that the $2 million, as stated by Wilson and reiterated by Brumback, was for the marina.
Mayor Frank Hibbard proclaimed in sepulchral tones that the council "supports a marina, but doesn't know when we can do it." He then prevailed on his colleagues to join in this indefinite as to time pie in the sky project.
They all agreed, Hoyt Hamilton offering that the potential of the waterfront for development "is all the more clear now that the new bridge is here."
One observer noted that "obviously there was a misunderstanding -- even Jonson seemed to be out in left field on this -- but the city went on the attack. Apparently they like an adversarial relationship with the press."
The $2 million in question is already being partially used in earmarking more than $900,000 for a promenade. "This would make a great entrance for the marina," Bill Morris, in charge marine and aviation in the city.
Up for action at tonight's regular meeting of the council is setting the final millage rate of 5.753 (unchanged in four years), approving the operating budget for FY06 on first reading, adopting the 2006 Capital Improvement Budget, also on first reading, and approving an additional $10,000 homestead exemption for Clearwater taxpayers over 65 and who qualify on income requirements.
Sworn in Monday morning under the watchful and proud eyes of Chief Sid Klein and Deputy Chief Dewey Williams were six new officers in the Police Department. They are -- Bryan E. Adamson, Robert P. Bishop, Bradley J. Serata, John W. Schmidt, Shannon Shepard and Jonathan K. Yuen.
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