Beach Walk Or a “Concrete Canyon”
Parking on Clearwater Beach
By Nick Fritsch
CLEARWATER - In an extended discussion of possible options for a parking garage for the beach, a portion of the “prime beach vista” was spared at the last city council meeting, along with stopping the possible transformation of Beach Walk to “Concrete Canyon.” As the council discussed optional sites to construct a parking garage for south beach on the city parking lot nearest the former Adams Mark, a majority of the council agreed not to consider that area.
That was a moment of victory not only for the citizens who love the view of the beach, but also for all of the taxpayers who just paid a reported $30 million to develop and construct Beach Walk. A parking garage between Beach Walk and the beach itself would have wasted those tax dollars. Beach Walk would become trapped, inside of a concrete canyon, very similar to the look and feel of Brightwater Drive. Hotels would be on one side and a parking garage on the other.
Why would we make investment in Beach Walk to create a “world class” type of promenade along the beach, only to a few years later to block the beach with a parking garage?
Besides, are the Clearwater taxpayers willing to take on the cost of millions of dollars to build a parking garage largely for tourists and visitors from other cities, towns and counties? At least two council members expressed genuine concern about the taxpayer burden of a garage. Then, we are faced with the cost of operating it.
As the budget process is underway, the council repeatedly laments construction of capital projects from previous years that now have huge operating costs. It is interesting how this issue shifts among the council members as the different visions and priorities are discussed. But, that represents careful evaluation and good government; If it results in good decisions. The only voices at the meeting were the beach business owners, who benefit by not having to provide parking for their customers. They are all for us, building it for them.
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