INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- Talk of secession has not died in Indian Rocks Beach.
There is still an undercurrent of a strong desire to pull the city out of Pinellas County. It all comes down to money.
This came up at last Thursday's City Commission meeting which actually turned out to be a free wheeling seminar with full public participation in discussing the future of Gulf Boulevard.
Barred from discussion were any planning issues or undergrounding of utility wires.
In fact, the meeting was not so much about Gulf Boulevard itself, but about the appearance and ambience that should be displayed along what is the city's main drag.
Two commissioners -- Jim Palamara and Jeremiah Carmody -- and a resident, Phil Wrobel, advocated breaking away from the county.
The motivation for those feelings is that there is a widespread feeling in the city that the county ovetaxes Indian Rocks Beach.
One aspect of that, and it was mentioned several times as a theme at the May 12 meeting, is that when improvements are made to property, additional taxes are imposed. This acts, many claim, as a disicentive, for upgrading properties.
Most of the residents at Thursday's meeting (and all the members of the City Commission, for that matter) are owners of more than one property in the city. Much of the commentary was accordingly along those lines.
One question raised by Andrew Baker, a consultant and who has been helping out the city in the absence of its community development director since the departure of Pete Pensa, in his direction of the seminar was a discussion of what was the "heart" of the city or its center.
Because of the linear interest imposed by the locations of businesses along the length of Gulf Boulevard, Indian Rocks Beach, like Largo and Los Angeles, to city only two examples, has no "downtown" as such.
There is no focal point like a Times Square, Palafox and Garden, the Loop, the Common, Fort Harrison and Cleveland to draw residents and visitors.
Mayor Bill Ockunzzi came the closest in saying that perhaps there were two focus points -- Kolb Park (across from the city hall) and the Triangle (also known as The Narrows) which is still in a developmental stage.
A general consensus developed the idea that those at the meeting wanted to keep the low key, laid back ambience of Indian Rocks Beach and avoid high rise condominiums along the beach and to capitalize on the city's chief asset -- the beach itself.
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