Vote Yes – No risk to taxpayers

I moved to St. Petersburg from Savannah, Georgia three years ago. You may be be thinking, why should we care what a non-Clearwater resident thinks, but please hear me out.
Within three weeks of living in Florida, I heard about Winter and the CMA and came over to Clearwater to spend the day visiting CMA, the beach, and eating at Island Way Grill. My husband and I fell in love. Sometimes I feel like the St. Pete/Clearwater fan club, because I love bragging to my friends and family about the phenomenal place we now call home.
Every time we have company in town, we spend a day at Clearwater, and every time, we go to CMA. I have been too many times to count now, but I have the same feeling of pride when I go. CMA is different from most aquariums in that the animals are not sought out; CMA is not keeping them from the wild for any reason other than necessity. These animals need the CMA, because they are unable to live in the wild for various reasons. It pains me to know that there are so many other animals out there that need help but due to space restrictions, cannot be taken in. These beautiful individuals deserve more than a former waste-water treatment facility, and CMA wants to give them more AND CAN! With the sequel to A Dolphin Tale coming out next year, now is the time to fundraise and build a new home for Winter, Hope, Nicholas, and the rest of the CMA family. I understand the citizens’ hesitation, as the new building is not a guaranty – lots of funds have to be raised, and many stars need to align.
All I ask is that you give CMA a chance to do this – to improve, to help more animals, and to provide all of us with even more to brag about in Clearwater. Change is always hard, but please trust me when I say that the risks here will not be absorbed by you as tax-payers. CMA is not purchasing the land at less than market value, as I’ve heard – in fact, it is quite the opposite. CMA is leasing the land, so that it will remain owned by Clearwater, and the lease amount is well above fair market value.
I love Clearwater and everything it stands for – the charm, the history, the beauty, the community – so much so that I regularly drive over an hour from my office in Tampa and my home in downtown St. Petersburg. My hope is that you will stand together on this and give CMA an opportunity to become more and meet the needs of the animals we protect and the people who love them.
Thank you for your time.
Meredith Gaunce 
St. Petersburg

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