Scientology's grip hurts downtown Clearwater


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Re: Merchants say protesters are driving away business, story, May 14

It seems to me a very positive thing to see a younger generation willing to express its freedom of speech. It is also nice to see people and activity in usually quiet downtown Clearwater.

I believe that these protesters, while focused on the unknown specifics of the inner workings of Scientology, are also expressing that they want to have Clearwater's downtown feel free and open to all. In my opinion, it is not the demonstrations that are hurting the downtown merchants.

The fact is that many people believe Clearwater will be a more exciting and healthy city once the downtown area has vitality and is again a place that everyone is proud of.

A variety of shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, etc., would make it easier for most to realize and support this fact, and our mayor and City Council continue to make progress in helping bring these businesses back into our downtown for the benefit of all.

Whatever the true intent of the Scientology leadership is, they have yet to convince many that the group as a whole is any benefit to this city.

They continue to hold our downtown hostage with the ownership and use of some of the valuable street-front retail space in a manner detrimental to what should be a public and welcoming downtown area.

Why is it that the most prominent and visible downtown intersection, with the most automobile traffic, is today still maintained as a lifeless street edge on the east side?

The northeast and southeast corners of the Fort Harrison Avenue and Cleveland Street intersection, a gateway to our downtown core, are unique, and large former retail and office buildings are today used as private spaces with permanently shuttered miniblinds.

These and other prime spaces along the Cleveland Street corridor are used in a manner that gives some an uneasy feeling when visiting the area, even if it is just to see what progress is being made today.
Scientology has claimed that it is community oriented. When is Scientology going to jump on board with our city's downtown revitalization efforts with true actions and community efforts?

When will Scientology sell or lease these many shuttered street-front properties? There are surely many interested businesses that would flourish in a downtown district that is supported by a variety of people walking and driving.

Clearwater needs its downtown to be once again an economic engine for this city. The area is a key transition to Clearwater Beach, and its redevelopment is as important as the beach's. This commercial and office area is needed to support the surrounding residential areas in a more sustainable way — that is, by reducing the driving miles needed to attain goods and entertainment.

It is time that the Scientology leadership realizes the negative impact of its stranglehold on downtown Clearwater's main corridor. It is time that more residents aware of our downtown's significance express their viewpoint to our mayor and City Council so they pursue all prudent legal and policymaking avenues to ensure that our downtown street-front spaces are used in a manner appropriate to the district.

No one may be able to force the group to lease or sell these spaces, but when more residents and business leaders take more interest and provide the pressure, the need, and the want of having a vital downtown district, then surely the revitalization will begin to snowball. Today we can already visualize the beauty, the value and the democracy of what our downtown would once again be. Just go down and visit and promise yourself you will not abandon a gem of a place just waiting to shine once again!

Ric Ortega, Clearwater


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This article brings up some excellent points. However, Scio is NOT community oriented except when it can be used for PR. Ms. Ortega is under the delusion that the church is interested in improving Clearwater.

They are only interested in getting more people in the church.

Also, as to the shuttered properties which could be rented out to local business, I can't see any interest taken in moving forward with that until it becomes a Hll 10.


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Sociable Scientology??????

Scientology does NOT join a community. The community is expected to join Scientology. Clearly the writer needs some auditing to be able to experience how "sane" the street corner is. My goodness, the point is to have the first OT City, and if you start letting wog businesses and shoppers into the area, well, counter-intention!:omg: :omg: