I am opposed to the joint municipal-private commercial development of the proposed Sand Pearl Marina being considered in the small harbor on the East side of Mandalay Ave., immediately North of Belle Harbor Condominiums and on the South side of the City of Clearwater's Bay Esplanade/Mandalay Recreational Complex (tennis courts, swimming pool, basketball courts, recreation center and public parking ) for a number of reasons.
The City of Clearwater has provided neither sufficient notice nor open discussions for its citizens to have an ample opportunity to actively participate in discussing either the desirability or viability of this project that is being "fast-tracked" by the parties involved.
To begin with, I believe this is yet another altogether familiar scene in our Community whereby another of the public's assets, which have been entrusted to the City for responsible stewardship for all of the people of Clearwater, are once again being considered available for the primary benefit of a private developer. By this I mean we are considering making both the City's riparian rights to the harbor (the water front property) as well as the uniqueness of providing an unlimited access to the public's property (the Recreation Complex site) to a developer for the developer's sole benefit and private gain.
The token benefits alluded to by this project on behalf of the citizens of the City of Clearwater are being over-hyped and over-sold and are minimal at best. For instance, thirty-three of the forty-three boat slips being proposed for the Sand Pearl marina will be leased exclusively by the developer. Fifteen of the twenty-one forty foot slips (the prime slips) will also be leased exclusively by the developer as will all twelve (100%) of the thirty foot slips being proposed. The stark reality is that this project will handsomely reward the developer. He gets the "steak", while the City and its citizens get the "sizzle". His gain is our loss. If approved, this project will once again provide a long-term water- front windfall gain to a private developer of public domain assets on Clearwater Beach.
In most real estate transactions, a property owner retains an agent to sell his property. When that occurs, the owner usually receives the bulk of the sale proceeds and the agent receives a small percentage of those proceeds called a "commission" for his or her effort in facilitating the sale. However, in the Sand Pearl Marina proposal we manage to turn that concept on its head. In this proposal, the agent (developer) gets the proceeds and the City gets the commission. Again, "steak" and "sizzle".
Additionally, there may be extremely detrimental environmental impacts from the Sand Pearl Marina which are not being properly explored or thoroughly considered. By adding a large number of additional boats either moored, on lifts, or motoring in close proximity to one another, in this narrow and shallow harbor, the proposed Sand Pearl Marina may negatively impact the water quality in the harbor significantly with additional gasoline spills and oil seepages into a body of water which does not have a strong tidal flow, as well as introducing additional refuse and debris which will undoubtedly be discarded into the harbor.
The proposed Sand Pearl Marina may also further endanger the safety of the manatees which are regularly viewed leisurely swimming in and out of the harbor; as well as impacting the maneuverability and safety of the existing boat traffic currently using the narrow harbor. The Sand Pearl marina's dock configuration impairs safe navigation within the channel because its extension into the harbor exceeds 25-percent of the width of the narrow waterway. The City's own development code limits dock construction to no more than 25-percent of the waterway width while Sand Pearl's current dock design extends to nearly 50-percent of the width of the cove in some places. The party with the most to gain from this proposal is the developer of the proposed Sand Pearl Marina and the party with the most at stake is the citizens of Clearwater.
If the City of Clearwater truly believes it is in the best interest of its citizens to add another marina on Clearwater Beach, then let the City propose to build, own, operate and maintain "a completely public marina" here for the benefit of all of its citizens. But first, let the citizens of Clearwater determine how many City marinas the taxpayers of this City, especially those without boats, are prepared to support.
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