CLEARWATER - Despite hearing overwhelming public opposition expressed by a substantial number of interested and concerned Citizens of Clearwater, in attendance at the recent Clearwater City Council meeting addressing the Sandpearl Marina Agreement between the city and a private developer, the City Council none-the-less unanimously approved the Agreement. Without having heard one single public endorsement for this project, other than the developer who maintains a personal vested interest in the project and the Council's own staff, the City Council none-the-less chose to approve the Agreement. The Council turned a "tin" ear to both the public's objections and to their constructive suggestions.
Why weren't other options explored, or considered, or even discussed, in a public forum for utilizing these public assets?
Why weren't other proposals from other equally qualified parties, other developers for instance, solicited in order to ensure that the citizens of Clearwater were receiving the maximum possible benefits for making our public assets available to a private developer?
Why didn't the city solicit interest from the citizens to determine if we might be willing to lease boat slips from the city at cost-effective rates which would have made a city owned marina economical?
Why didn't the city entertain competitive bids for the development of a marina on the public's property?
Why did the City Council choose to ignore the objections from the citizens living in close proximity to the project?
Why did the Council agree to a 30-year lease while at the same time commenting on the shrewd economic wisdom of potentially exercising its option for buying the marina from the developer at a depreciated cost 5 years later?
Why not a five-year lease without the added five-year extensions?
Why didn't the city demand more in the way of lease payments from the developer?
Why didn't the City Council explain how boaters using these slips would further reduce available beach parking?
Why does the City Council and the developer forfeit their responsibilities to provide adequate on-site security at this marina and instead by default require that the residents living adjacent to the project provide de facto security?
Does the Council really believe people are going to walk to their boats, dragging their ice chests with them and carrying their fishing poles and bait and towels, etc.? Or, do they really think people will drive their cars to the boat slips, unload their supplies and then drive their cars back to where ever they came from and then walk back to their boats? People are going to drive their cars to these slips, and leave their cars parked there until they return from their boating trip making less spaces available for beach parking.
Why didn't the city choose only to make public day docks or slips available at this site, minimizing the objections from the citizens who live in the area adjacent to the current project, while at the same time maximizing the benefits for public boating access for everyone at minimal costs?
It's clear the City Council has elected to exercise its own agenda in approving the Agreement allowing a private developer to utilize public domain for significant private benefit and gain. No one on the Council during the evening the vote was taken approving this Agreement even hinted that perhaps the combined voices of the citizens, who appeared before them, in opposition to the Agreement, had merit or should be even slightly considered. The Council's actions were not in the public's best interest and remain questionable, especially since there was not a single member of the public present that gave any indication at all of support for this project.
As I said at the hearing, the Agreement is a sweetheart deal that was placed on a fast-track for approval. On the night the City Council approved the Sandpearl Marina Agreement, it doesn't appear that it was the citizens of Clearwater who were represented that evening by their action.
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