Home / Government / Residents, officials square off over the future of the Safety Harbor

Residents, officials square off over the future of the Safety Harbor

Safety Harbor resident Sue Zinkel speaks at the City Commission meeting on Monday, August 15, 2016.
Safety Harbor resident Sue Zinkel speaks at the City Commission meeting on Monday, August 15, 2016. Dozens of residents packed City Hall to speak out about proposed changes to the zoning code that they believe could affect the future of the city’s downtown district.

What began as a discussion about home sizes and lot setbacks in the downtown district evolved into another lengthy, impassioned debate about the future of Safety Harbor, as dozens of residents packed City Hall Monday night to voice their thoughts on the subject.

The citizens attended the latest City Commission meeting to speak out about proposed changes to the city’s land development code, including combining setback requirements into one category, eliminating the one-story structure maximum lot requirement, and applying a maximum lot coverage requirement for some two-story homes in the R2 district.

But after the commissioners addressed the agenda item and Mayor Andy Steingold opened the floor to audience members, the topic turned into a referendum on the smart growth movement, the viability of the downtown district and the past, present and future of Safety Harbor.

“I moved here because Safety Harbor is a quiet country town,” longtime resident Richard Laird said.

Safety Harbor resident Richard Laird speaks at the City Commission meeting on Monday, August 15, 2016.
Safety Harbor resident Richard Laird speaks at the City Commission meeting on Monday, August 15, 2016.

“And what you’re doing to this town now, with this growth, isn’t growth. It’s actually going to destroy the city. It’s going to turn it into an urban center. It’s not going to be Safety Harbor any more.”

Laird’s comments kicked off a procession to the podium, with many speakers venting their long-held thoughts, and frustrations, about the issue.

“We know that arguing the minutiae of setbacks may seem insignificant, but we feel it’s a symptom of misplaced focus,” Kevin LaBrie, one of the founder of the Smart Growth Safety Harbor movement, said.

“Our city has been paralyzed by entrenched fighting driven by fear. We want to show our leadership that we want to move forward by using vision and positive change, rather than fear and desperately clinging to the past.”

While smart growth supporters are in favor of a variety of home sizes in the downtown district, there are many residents who oppose the influx of larger houses in the area.

“I don’t think putting oversized houses on a bunch of lots is going to drive everybody to come to Safety Harbor,” Chip Thomas said.

“People come to Safety Harbor for the small quaint atmosphere that it is, and there’s people clamoring to get in the city. So any of the people that really aren’t satisfied here ought to leave.”

One newcomer to town spoke about being situated directly in the crosshairs of this debate.

New homes being built on Iron Age Street in downtown Safety Harbor have been at the forefront of the debate about the future of the district.
New homes on Iron Age Street in downtown Safety Harbor have been at the forefront of the debate about the future of the district.

“I am one of those people who is building a big home,” Diane Bouida, a former Westchase resident who’s moving to Iron Age Street, said.

“I want to tell you, I have never been approached by so many nasty people while sitting on my front porch, telling me how I am ruining their city.”

“I have been so saddened by some of the people who have approached me on my front patio, I actually I am thinking of moving,” she added. “And it’s sad. I am so saddened, I’m ready to sit here and cry in my chair when I hear the hostility of the people, how they are towards us building a home.”

After hearing all of the emotional comments from the residents, the commission members followed with equally emotional, and in some cases strongly worded, rebuttals.

“We really should be focused on these ordinances, but I feel compelled to talk about the discussion that happened,” Vice Mayor Andy Zodrow said, adding, “Smart growth, that’s a great name for you guys. What’s the alternative, dumb stagnation?”

Safety Harbor Vice-Mayor Andy Zodrow.
Safety Harbor Vice-Mayor Andy Zodrow.

“I’ll support Smart Growth’s idea for spurring economic development on Main Street, but understand the limitations of local government,” he continued. “Local government can’t re-create Main Street. It’s private. It’s private businesses, its private companies, its private buildings…local government can’t just go in and wipe everything clean.”

Zodrow finished by imploring the Smart Growth group to “come up with a plan” to bring before the commission, adding, “I’m confused about what Smart Growth really wants…I don’t even know why you guys are here on this ordinance. I’m really confused about what you expect.”

Commissioner Janet Hooper said she was “ a little stung by some of the comments,” while Commissioner Carlos Diaz admitted the downtown “could get better” and he would like to see residents of the community to come together to discuss the issue without animosity, a thought echoed by Commissioner Cliff Merz.

Safety Harbor City Commissioner Cliff Merz.
Safety Harbor City Commissioner Cliff Merz.

“I don’t think Smart growth is bad, per se, and the battle lines isn’t good for our community,” Merz said. “We need to discuss openly, and rationally, and with a certain degree of respect for each other to be able to understand where you’re coming from.”

“There’s nothing right or wrong here,” he added. “Whether we want houses closer together or farther apart, there’s not a right and wrong to that. There’s just the perception of the community that surrounds it.”

Finally, approaching 11:00 p.m., Mayor Steingold addressed the issue, and he also called for unity in the community.

“I’m quite saddened at the divisiveness in our community. I really am,” Steingold said.

“I think we each need to respect the others opinion’s and philosophy. No one should move into the community and be tormented because they built a house one way or another.”

Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold.
Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold.

The mayor went on to counter those who are claiming the downtown district is slowly dying by saying they are the ones guilty of fear mongering, and while he also admitted things could be better, he said the high property values and multi-faceted neighborhoods are some examples that the town is doing well.

“We’re not trying to stunt or stop or try to reduce (property) values,” he stated.

“When you start looking around the county, our values are some of the highest around the county. So when you say it’s all falling apart or broken or dying, we must be doing something right here in Safety Harbor.”

“The community has been going, I believe, in a pretty good direction,” he added. “Can we do better? We can always do better…but we’re all up here trying to work together for your benefit.”

“I think we’re doing pretty good, so the sky isn’t falling, everyone. We’re keeping your taxes low, we’re providing the best possible service we can provide you, and we’re up here and each of us is taking this heart.”

The commission is scheduled to discuss the ordinances again next month before voting on the proposed changes at a later date.

Related content:

Note: This article has been edited to clarify the next step in the process regarding the ordinances, as well as to reflect the area of the proposed zoning changes.


  1. A question for the Mayor and Commissioners? Is anyone who is on the Safety Harbor Planning and Zoning Board an urban planner? I have to ask this question as the proposals coming through this Board over the last year do not make any sense from an urban planning perspective. Matt Spoor, can someone please confirm this question for our Safety Harbor community. This Board proposes critical components that affect a homeowner’s house and property. I am hopeful that someone on this Board is an urban planner. We have multiple individuals who live in our city who have these qualifications. If an urban planner is not on this Board, does this Board consult with an urban planner prior to submitting their proposals to the City Commission? Can you please confirm for the community. Thank you Matt.

    • Commissioner AZ:
      “Dumb Stagnatioon.”
      Another among your greatest hits, right up there with being the only commissioner who just voted against property owners’ rights.

  2. By the way, can we get a shout out to Jeff Rosenfield, for consistantly providing fair and unbiased reporting of the goings-on in Safety Harbor?
    Thank you, Jeff!!

  3. As a small business owner in Downtown Safety Harbor for almost two years, I’ve lived the struggle of trying to survive in this town first hand.

    We thought we did our research before opening the shop in February of 2014. We spoke with existing business owners and looked at the community and all it has to offer. Safety Harbor Resort and Spa is a draw for tourism from all over the world. There are various events which take place throughout the year and a long tree lined Main Street. There are a number of fantastic restaurants which offer a variety of options; the majority of them receiving excellent reviews from their patrons. The location is close to the major urban areas of Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg; a seemingly perfect place to set up business for a new start in life. Optimistically, we signed a two year lease with dreams of making enough to cover both business and personal expenses. Soon after, it became apparent we did not do enough research into the town itself… 100% my fault.

    Don’t get me wrong. We thoroughly appreciate every single person who has walked through our door whether they made a purchase or not. We like the products and services we offer. We don’t sell items made in sweatshops from China or India. We offer lines which are made in economically and environmentally friendly manners. We go to great lengths to ensure our customers are 100% satisfied with the product or service they receive. We do understand not everyone will see a benefit in what we offer and that is okay.

    As a local business owner, a Chamber member and former Board member for MOSH I have heard, and continue to hear, a great deal about the challenges of doing business in Safety Harbor. I have experienced the majority of them first hand. As a Board member of MOSH, I felt a responsibility to look for ways to not only promote their businesses, but Safety Harbor as a whole. Hence, I got involved in signage within the downtown district and later a project to implement wayfaring signs in the community.

    I personally did a lot of research on what it takes to make a downtown successful. I reviewed the City’s Master Plan and saw a lot of great information contained therein but didn’t see a whole lot of the recommendations put into action when it came to revitalizing Main Street. This was confusing to me since the Community had spent so much time and effort into coming up with a plan for future development. This was also pointed out by Commissioner Diaz at the most recent City Commission meeting.

    You hear a lot of blame and finger pointing from both business owners and residents. I didn’t see any benefit in listening to the “noise”. It wasn’t going to help my business or anyone else’s business for that matter. Stay positive, stay focused and stick to the plan to move forward. So, obviously a plan was needed – at least from a local business owner’s perspective.

    I’m not an expert on nurturing and growing a successful business environment within a community. Howard Latham from Tapping the Vine had previously found some good resources which provided guidance on creating this type of environment. When Howard left the Board of MOSH, I chose to continue with the research he started.

    Some of the resources I utilized are:

    If you take the time to do your own research, you will see a lot of the same principles repeated over and over. One of the most important is getting the entire community involved in coming up with a plan of action. As noted above, there was a previous plan of action already adopted by the City which involved the residents and business owners of this community. This past year has shown it may be time to revisit the existing plan and make appropriate changes to meet the needs of both residents and business owners.

    Many of the resources listed above have overlapping principles and guidelines. One of the main reasons I support Smart Growth Safety Harbor is because one of Smart Growth’s guiding principles is getting participation from the community. Smart Growth also has other principles which are in alignment with creating a successful Downtown business environment. My agenda had to do with what can help my business be successful and benefit the rest of Safety Harbor in the process.

    Does this mean I agree with every single principle or idea of Smart Growth? Not in the least! Do I think there are people involved who have their own agendas and reasons for supporting Smart Growth? Of course! Do I think the leaders of Smart Growth are willing to listen and come up with solutions in conjunction with the all interested parties? Absolutely!

    As a community, working together will produce a greater plan for future growth and development while ensuring everyone’s voice is heard in the decision making process. The key is to not let past biases and grievances get in the way of determining what is best for Safety Harbor. You must be willing to listen to all sides in the discussion. Get educated and get involved.

    Your behaviors brand your community. What do you want to be said of your town? Currently, some of it isn’t so pretty or “quaint”.

  4. a grocery store would be lovely, it’s time to be and let be. There’s lots of housing choices here, be happy don’t worry

  5. The only thing I can ever be sure of is that everyone has an agenda. This is not a bad thing, it’s just human nature.
    The Smart Growth Safety Harbor movement is still in its infancy and has two choices:

    1. They can risk being identified as a group of angry people with an agenda that behaves more like a bulldozer than a group with sensible ideas as well thought-out plans.


    2. They can take more time building and presenting plans so sensible and well thought out that their ideas gain popular support and momentum.

    Angry rants during City Commission meetings haven’t achieved much more than branding various individuals as ‘outspoken’ (a popular euphemism lately). Come up with a plan and make it known. Anything less will condemn this new movement as just an outlet for malcontents. The Smart Growth Safety Harbor Facebook page promotes itself as “all about positivity and vision” (August 7 at 2:56 pm post). Here’s hoping that actions follow words.

    • I was at the meeting, and if there were any “angry rants” they did not come from members of Smart Growth, I can assure you of that. Watch the video of the meeting on SH city website. You may see a rant or two, but not from Smart Growth, a movement that wants to work in peace with everyone in the city, to create an even better existence for us than already exists.

  6. As a homeowner on main for the last 4 yrs, we moved to safety harbor because of its charm, parks, water access, bike trails, location to surrounding areas, and real estate investment to name a few great aspects. That being said, as a business professional who owns in safety, I have seen many business open and close within 6 months or never open at all due to red tape and “locals” blocking growth. Where is the local fresh grocery? Fishing & tackle? Outdoor sports? or decent seafood resturaunt? We have 4 places to eat breakfast and none can make an omelet that doesn’t taste like prcessed burnt food. Stop in and try them, they are not good or even busy. People love to visit us and our town, but we can’t spend our money here because people just care about supporting business that don’t provide great service or product. Now we want to block housing development over home size and keep out people who can invest there money in a local market? Or treat them as outcast? Seriously? That’s ruthless… Out city needs help and we are the supporters paying taxes and trying to support local businesses. But for what? To halt growth? We need to get out of the dark ages where pirates roamed the bay and looted for goods and land. Safety harbor can grow and maintain its charm…. See Dunedin.

    • A well thought out and informed response…..to the gallows with you!!!

      JK. I agree on all your points. You can have growth and still be a quaint city. Want to know why the condo tower never got built because people aren’t going to pay $600,000 for a 1,000 SF condo in SH. Economics will take care of what is and isn’t built. You have developers willing to invest millions and SH pushes them aside as greedy and meets them with animosity.

  7. Vice Mayor Andy Zodrow said, adding, “Smart growth, that’s a great name for you guys. What’s the alternative, dumb stagnation?”
    WOW – very unprofessional quote from a Vice Mayor. This is a national group! Perhaps dumb stagnation fits this local government who is afraid to make a decision or educate itself! Being reactive and not knowing what to do or how to do it is rather evident!! How about listening to an urban planner or act on the plan that city tax payers paid for in 2007…there’s a thought!!

    • I really have to comment on this subject. If you closely read the article or listened to me at the meeting, you would understand my confusion but you also would see my support of the concept of smart growth. That was the point of my comment about the name of the group. Almost everyone supports smart growth, including all of the Commissioners and the Mayor. But there are really two different subjects under discussion. One is economics of supporting downtown businesses and the other is aesthetics and size of homes. I asked for a plan on the economics question, ie. How to spur new developement on Main Street, even though that subject was not on the agenda. The development of large homes with little or no setbacks, ie., April 30th Fb post from Smart Growth asking for “New Urbanism” does not increase density, does not add more people to downtown, and does not create new shops. They are two different subjects. I tried to explain that during the meeting. I support smart growth. I do not support the Smart Growth Safety Harbor concept that lots downtown should not have yards. They have repeatedly made that comment and suggest that homes with yards downtown is somehow outdated. I do not believe the majority of residents downtown agree that setbacks should be decreased but that was the message from at least several members of the group Monday night. I will continue to solicit and consider comments from everyone on this subject.

      • Andy, the first link below is list of the New Urbanism principles. The second is a great article on the relationship between New Urbanism and Smart Growth. We are not merely referring to growth that is smart, the name Smart Growth refers to an urban planning theory that focuses on walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl. The American Planning Association has adopted Smart Growth and has even created the Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook, a culmination of the “Growing Smart Project”, an effort to draft the next generation of model planning and zoning legislation for the United States.
        New Urbanism and Smart Growth principles are similar and in fact the College of New Urbanism helped establish the Smart Growth Network. “Smart growth is the policy framework, while New Urbanism provides specific strategies and real-world examples of how to implement that framework”. They both focus on design and “place making” though NU provides planning and design strategies integrating “community and economic development policies with design and development strategies”.
        With regard to you question about setbacks. Part of this falls under the first principle of New Urbanism: Walkability :
        – Most things within a 10-minute walk of home and work
        – Pedestrian friendly street design (buildings close to street; porches, windows & doors; tree-lined streets; on street parking; hidden parking lots; garages in rear lane; narrow, slow speed streets)
        Specifically it comes down to traditional neighborhood design elements that promote walkability and community interaction (especially for neighborhoods surrounding our downtown core). Increasing the setbacks shrinks the building envelope, discouraging large front porches, pushing the home farther from the street. This results in garage dominant suburban style homes. It also encourages more two story, more boxy style homes as homeowners needing more space try to maximize their sf per dollar. The end result is less diversity of housing, less pedestrian friendly design, less diversity of income.
        Finally, research shows that this type of traditional neighborhood design does bring more people downtown which in turn does help bring more shops downtown. As residents will continue to come and go, the current trend is people looking for a more walkable community with a vibrant Main Street. We are not promoting no yard, but a better designed more usable yard, and yes some options for residents that want less yard. And options for those who want Apts above retail along Main St. Research shows that this all works together to strengthen the downtown core districts as the desire for a walkable community lifestyle continues to grow. As you move farther from downtown, those residents have opted for more car dependent lifestyles, where more yard and different zoning applications might apply.


      • Your message was very clear. We watched the meeting from CA and could easily understand there are two issues. We support a successful Main Street. What does a successful Main Street have to do with large big box homes with no set backs?
        A robust Main Street and set backs for homes are clearly two issues. Am I missing something?

        • Your property has a front yard but not back yard? It looks nice but what is the difference? Diversity and it is not only large homes but townhomes, small homes, multi family homes. Even duplexes just like yours:)

      • For a person who has said he does not like to reply, you sure do reply a lot. Always explaining what you say you didn’t say. Watching the entire meeting from the east coast was eye opening. You see and hear so much more than attending a meeting. You asked SG for a plan, for them to give the city a plan. Is that not your job? In fact, why isn’t the 2007 plan, paid for with tax payers money, not being implemented? Use what the citizens taxes paid for and supported.
        Bless your hearts, but when SG refers to walkability it is not about SIDEWALKS! It is about a walkable downtown that services your daily needs.

    • Lou, dumb stagnation is the mantra of this commission, short of Diaz and maybe Merz, that is why it came out of his mouth so easily. He coined, he has to live with it.

  8. Safety Harbor businesses are suffering. This is why many have closed their doors. It is not logical to stay in the same. We need talented and well throught growth – for survival. It’s not 30 years ago! I welcome new growth as long as it is well thought and planned.

  9. We moved to Safety Harbor 2 years ago. The small town charm attracted us so I’m not necessarily a proponent of some of the new construction. That said, the homeowners of these properties have built / purchased their properties legally and the fact that they have been made to feel unwelcome should be a concern for all of us. I believe we can work out the details thru compromise yet remain a cohesive community. Hope I’m not proven wrong.

    Regarding the Cafe, my suggestion would be to work on some marketing. I’ve rarely met a coffee shop I didn’t like ( except Starbucks because I prefer to not go to chains plus I don’t like their coffee ) but this is the first I’ve heard about it! We walk downtown all the time but it appears to be a bit off our beaten path

    If one wants a coffee while d/t any evening the pickins’ are slim. In this regard I’m happy the Starbucks is there. Young people need a place to go and be together. They can’t play PokemonGo at the marina 24/7, could they ? … So it’s a safe option for get evening get togethers.

  10. As a Safety Harbor resident and business executive, I welcome the opportunity to be involved to support all parties of our community. By nature I am a team builder and presenter. Reporting the facts, weighing the issues, and assisting with resolutions. Safety Harbor is going the right direction to reiterate Mayor Steingold’s comment. My sister lived here for years and decided to move to Tarpon Springs waterfront community 3 years ago. 25 years ago Safety Harbor was a sleepy little town. The progress made is worth noting. Now as a resident, I do agree improvements can be made to bring community enrichment for all ages. This can be done. There is a middle ground. If all are willing to listen objectively progress can be made. I plan to join the chamber and be more involved. Please don’t hesitate to email or post on my FB page Safety Harbor “I love my town”. Looking forward to what the future brings for Safety Harbor!!

  11. I think it’s a reach to say the mayor isn’t supportive of local businesses because he likes to go to a national chain. I’m all for local and patronize the local businesses that I enjoy, but if a guy wants to go inside to enjoy his coffee instead of sweating his ass off outside, that’s his choice. Maybe he doesn’t like Vino Tinto’s coffee? I love the Whistle Stop, Sandwich and Southern Fresh, but I also enjoy going to Bonefish, Burger Monger and Jimmy John’s. There are plenty of locally owned businesses on Main Street I’ve never been in because I’m not interested in their products or services. You need to get over the “only buy local” attitude and realize that people are going to patronize places they enjoy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Stop playing the victim.

    • I agree…the Mayor can go wherever he pleases however as Mayor he should at least stop in and thank the business for investing in the town he serves…common courtesy goes a long way don’t show up come election time as he won’t be welcomed…

    • Wow. Harsh. Not playing the victim, just think that the mayor, of all people, should at least stop in to each local business and say hello. I know several business owners who say that he has never graced their doorstep. Thats not going to help get him re-elected. I’m not saying I dislike the guy, but he should think about how his actions affect locals, which is part of his job, in my humble opinion. And, by the way, I know for a fact that he has never been in Cafe Vino Tinto, so you can’t say for certain that he dislikes their coffee. I have nothing against chains. I eat at Burger Monger, myself but no longer patronize Jimmy John’s because the owner hunts for sport, which I don’t believe in. We all have our favorite places, its true.

      • Steven, Funny you should say you won’t patronize a merchant who does things you object to. So it should be no surprise to you & other merchants who support SG when downtown residents stop going to your businesses because you are helping people who want to destroy OUR homes. Businesses that have been in town successfully for decades know that alliances they make will have a direct effect on their business. They won’t touch this group with a 10′ pole. They are using you and don’t really care about Main St. The majority are builders & investors who want to create density with row & zero lot line houses so THEY can make millions of dollars.I’m afraid you will all be bankrupt before the first shovel goes in the ground. Please reconsider & try other ways, such as advertising in the community.

        • There’s that friendly neighborly charm!

          Sharon – you should be embarrassed, I know you’re not, but you should be. 🙂



        • Sharon, thanks for your very valuable input. Unfortunately you’ve been lied to about the people behind Smart Growth Safety Harbor. I know each and every one of them, and there is not a single developer in the group. No one in SHSH wants to see homes or trees destroyed. NO ONE in the group stands to make a single dime off of any new building or industry that would happen here. You are absolutely right in not wanting to patronize an establishment that goes against your beliefs, but you might want to actually sit down with and get to know the members of Smart Growth before you continue to spread misinformation and lies. You’ve been woefully led astray by someone (perhaps someone with a grudge?), and you are absolutely welcome to approach and meet with members of Smart Growth (an idea that has been around and working for towns across the country for thirty years), so that you can make valuable, INFORMED decisions before saying something that is completely untrue. I hope that, as an intelligent and basically good person, you will come to see that no one here means you or any of your friends and neighbors any harm. We all must join together to continually better our beautiful community!

        • Sharon McAuley, I hate to have to correct you but you have provided readers of the Safety Harbor Connect with false information. The Smart Growth Safety Harbor’s facebook page reads:

          Smart Growth Safety Harbor is a community group of homeowners, residents and merchants promoting the Vision of a more vibrant and walkable Safety Harbor.

          You consistently indicate that builders and investors are part of this group. This is false information. Mayor Steingold said at the Commission meeting that as a community we need to work together. I hope that you will stop spreading these lies, this hurts the community as a whole. I also hope that you, Shelly Schellenberg and David Riggle (the two “real faces” behind the facebook page of “Saving Safety Harbor”) would stop spreading false information, negativity and fear-based comments about Smart Growth Safety Harbor on your facebook page . If you are going to put information on your facebook page, please base it on research and facts.

          The negative comments your facebook page made about the Iron Age Homes has really hurt the owners of these properties. Diane Bruita showed up at the last Commission Meeting and said she was extremely upset and was about to cry based upon the mean verbal comments she receives regularly from individuals walking by her house. Is this the way we treat our new community members.

          And now you are indicating above that you as a downtown resident are not going to support local businesses because you think others want to destroy OUR homes. Once again, another outlandish remark. Please stop all this drama for the betterment of the community.

          Sharon, I sent you a card indicating that I was hoping we could work together for the betterment of the city with no response. I’ve made multiple invites to meet with you for discussion. None so far have been accepted, reaching out again. let me know when you are able.

          • Thank You Susan, It is very sad to see how the people act toward us on Iron Age. They do not even know the people they are talking about. I have worked two jobs all my life to ensure my family has a nice place to live. Before they hurt peoples feelings they should think about that. I am very sad that my 78 year old mom cant be excited about moving to our new home because of some people that have made comments to her on our front porch. I had the pleasure of meeting many new people after the meeting and some while they are walking by my home, and I am thankful for that. One of the things that attracted me to my home was having a front porch that I can sit on and meet people going by (sometimes I get to meet some new four legged friends) , however there are times I am wondering if I made a big mistake building in Safety Harbor.

          • Iron age and the townhomes on 2nd Ave S are beautiful. Just darling. What is wrong with people???

        • Sharon

          I am appalled by your version of Quaint and Charming. People are starting to catch on you know. Encouraging others to blackball businesses because they do not fall in line with your unenlightened belief is a growing and an abhorrent problem in this city. Homeowners have a private property rights, yours is not the only that counts. Just because you do not believe or stand with people who look to the future does not afford you the right to threaten their businesses or encourage others to do so. It is sickening. I feel that we ALL have good intentions for our community but the meaness has got to stop. I and the others in SGSH feel so bad for the lady on Iron Age. No one should ever be made to feel like that. Bullying should stop long before we become adults. Real adults in a Quaint and Charming community know better or should anyway. I challenge all residents to see beyond the continued blackballing of our merchants it is unwise and unfair and a direct reflection on the community as a whole. Do you really want to be seen as this kind of person, this kind of community-does your faith follow this type of behavior? Really? Just curious. I have more hope for this city than that. I feel like the merchants in this town have been dealing with a some type of extorted belief “Don’t align yourselves with these people, if you do then……” MERCHANTS: STAY STRONG I WILL DO MORE TO SUPPORT YOUR BUSINESS AND WILL ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO SO NO MATTER WHAT SIDE OF THE FENCE YOUR ON. YOU DESERVE BETTER THAN WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN GETTING AND FEEL THIS NONSENSE HAS GOT TO STOP

          • Well said! I just don’t understand the hatefulness. I go out of my way to wave and say Good Morning to my neighbors even if they do not have the same beliefs. Will I continue to express my opinions? Absolutely!

    • I have to agree that it’s a reach to say the mayor isn’t supportive of local businesses because he likes to go to a national chain. Your right, different strokes for different folks, nothing wrong with that. What I do find intriguing though, is that mayor steingold was adamantly against the development of the building that Starbucks resides in, he ran for mayor back then to put a stop to this devilish kind of building. Now isn’t that somethin’. He can be seen there 3 times a week now! Let’s be honest everyone – SH would be a lot less cool, if it weren’t for that building. Even the haters can’t hate that one, and it’s the biggest one in the city! Nothing wrong with two story buildings along a main street, I’d like to see more of them, and more homes in town to hold more residents to fill those businesses up! Another shot of espresso por favor! 🙂

  12. I’m glad to see that Merz and Diaz are open minded and willing to engage on the subject of Smart Growth for Safety Harbor. Thats a positive start, but I was frustrated to hear the mayor speak of how popular the Starbucks in SH is, saying that it is more popular than any in Tampa Bay. What bothers me about this statement, and having seen him sitting in Starbucks mere hours before the meeting, is that we have a perfectly wonderful LOCALLY OWNED coffee shop, Cafe Vino Tinto, right here on Main Street, and yet he chooses to patronize the national chain. He has never even stepped foot into my business on Main, either, nor have any of the other commissioners, with the exception of Carlos Diaz (thank you for buying local, Carlos!).
    How can these folks say that they champion our quaint city, and yet never shop on it’s Main Street?
    Having said all that, I hope good things will come from the conversation started in Monday’s meeting. And I have great belief that with open minds and friendly hearts, we can make this a thriving, walkable Main Street and bring fresh life to the struggling local economy.

    • I am currently looking to buy property in SH with the hopes of growing old here (I’m only 53). I found this community sound board while looking for information that might shed light on the direction of this small town as well as the sensibilities of its residents. Like others, I am drawn by the charm, lush landscapes and pedestrian friendly nature that abounds. However, I was a bit shocked to see empty shops on Main St., some even boarded up and no local grocery. This gives the appearance more of a place in decline than of one on the rise. I initially found this shocking for a town with so much beauty. However, after reading the correspondence here, it seems that, as in all small towns, there are some who’s first reactions to all proposed change will be negative, even when change may even be in their best interest. I doubt these people want to see their property values decline because of a faltering town center. I remember while living in Coconut Grove in Miami, the old-timers were furious when the town wanted to tear down an old local bar and build a new restaurant with apartments above it. The end result was incredible. It kept within the design of the town, markedly improved the aesthetics and was geared more towards residents, not tourists. Constant obstruction to development leads to degradation of a town and I don’t think any residents want to see that happen in Safety Harbor. I hope to see some progress.

      • Sad to say if I had seen this site before building my home I would have never invested my money here. I recently sold my business and was going to rent one of the buildings on Main and open a business that all the residents would enjoy. However after seeing how nasty the people can be and closed minded I am thankful I did not invest any more money and have decided to rent somewhere else. Such a cute town with so much potential, I guess they don’t care they are driving people away.

        • Hopefully it was not a hair or nail salon, Desperation forces, I believe the building owners to lease to shops that are not what residents or visitors are interested in. What has ticked me off for years is the Edward-Jones brokerage in the 500 block of Main. It could have been so cute as a cafe because of the patio space to the west side of it. What a waste. What about the coin shop…I’ts already gone. The shops should be unique and charmingly different from what can be found at a strip mall. Then there was the sugar-free shop…Which was so weird anyway, I walked in one day and it smelled so strongly of mold or mildew. What a turn off, needless to say it is no longer there. Sorry to be so negative but having witnessed this for a decade, it’s hard to ignore.

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