Re: “Why not growth in Madeira Beach,” Nancy Hodges letter, March 14

Editor:

Congratulations again to Clearwater Beach and to St. Pete Beach for Best Beach awards.

Madeira Beach, our little, funky, eclectic city doesn’t need to compete with the award-winning neighboring beach towns, but complement them with our own specialty. Madeira Beach, the Grouper Republic, has the unusual, very navigable pass to the Gulf of Mexico. At this end of the Pinellas coast, boating and fishing vessels travel to beautiful Johns Pass in Madeira Beach to access the Gulf of Mexico. We all have beautiful beaches, but not all can claim access to the Gulf. Small towns that build on their most unique feature can develop that brand and become the best in their category. We don’t need to accelerate growth to do this. We can polish this gem … because it makes visiting us so special.

This should ignite our ideas to develop Madeira Beach’s special feature, not to compete with our larger “sister” towns, but focus on our glorious opening to big water. This is why festivals and fishing events have pinned our gateway on the map. This keeps boating enthusiasts and fishermen loving the lure.

We welcome visitors. There are places to shop, unwind, eat, gather, hear music, enjoy coastal vibes, birdwatch. All this is wrapped in a whimsical little 2.5 miles. No, we don’t want to be Clearwater Beach with its endless trail of traffic or any other beach.

We love our own identity. We already earned our award. We want to keep our pace, our friendly attitude, our charming Johns Pass Village and continue our brand as Gateway to the Gulf.

Our development restrictions are loosely knit and still being drafted. If we invite more traffic on our already clogged roadways, if we develop without very careful planning, if we ignore the environmental consequences of overbuilding on this island, we may find that our beloved Grouper Republic will be “wasting away in Margaritaville.”

Gerri Clyatt, Madeira Beach