Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read JULY 2019 — For the second year in a row, Tripadvisor awarded Clearwater the distinction of having the best beach in the country. This comes as no surprise to the city’s 115,000 residents, who have long been stewards of their environment. With the population in the Tampa Bay region growing, that stewardship becomes even more important.
Invest: Tampa Bay recently sat down with Mayor George Cretekos, who is on the verge of completing his second term. He discussed how the city is handling population growth, the challenges associated with it and how residents are at the forefront of environmental sustainability in Clearwater.
How are Clearwater residents supporting environmentally sustainable practices?
As I complete my second term, I appreciate how our residents and businesses have, on their own initiative, promoted sustainability and environmental stewardship. Before there had been any talk about governments banning single-use plastics in the region, Clearwater’s businesses had started their own programs to stop using plastic straws. It is now common to find many restaurants in Clearwater that do not offer plastic straws or styrofoam to-go containers. This is a testament to how our residents are promoting sustainability and being good stewards of the environment.
How is the region handling the recent increase in population growth?
The region must have smart growth to make sure we are not only taking care of the environment, but also guaranteeing accessibility for our residents and visitors. We continually hear that we have traffic problems and at certain times of the year those problems can be exasperating. The population in this region needs to adapt to using alternatives like public transportation, which can be a better option than building more roads. We should model our transportation efforts to be like that of other major cities where reliable public transportation is an alternative.
What are the biggest challenges facing the city of Clearwater?
Transportation and affordable housing are the two biggest concerns for the Tampa Bay area. A large percentage of the employees in Clearwater does not live in the city; if we can help provide affordable housing for these employees then the transportation problems could be eased. These individuals would not have to commute long distances into Clearwater, which in turn would help clear a significant amount of congestion on the roadways and emissions. My fellow mayors in the Tampa Bay region have realized that we may be separated by a body of water, but that doesn’t mean that our interests don’t run parallel. When one city does well then we all do well, so we should be working together to solve these issues.
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