Tell us more, Progress Energy
Feb. 20, editorial
Utility will seek input on project
Progress Energy Florida would like to clear up some confusion about our proposed transmission lines and the Brooker Creek Preserve. It is critical for the community to understand the facts about this important project.
Our long-standing commitment is to meet the growing energy needs of Florida residents in a way that minimizes impact on the environment. It is important for residents and friends of Brooker Creek Preserve to know that the company has not, and never will, propose "clear-cutting a half-mile wide transmission corridor" through the preserve. We have no half-mile-wide rights of way in our territory.
The company has more than 5,000 miles of transmission lines across our 35-county service territory. In this early stage of the project, maps show corridor areas about 1 mile wide that represent the potential path of a transmission line. The specific transmission routes, which would be much narrower, would be determined at a later date.
The largest right of way Progress Energy Florida would purchase for a new single transmission line is 250 feet wide. In many cases, the company attempts to locate new lines along existing rights of way, often requiring little or no additional land, to minimize impacts. Within the preserve, there is an existing transmission right of way.
Progress Energy Florida has identified the need to add about 200 miles of new transmission lines affecting 10 counties. This project is expected to span up to eight years. In order to gain public input early in the process, the company initiated an innovative community approach last year that includes participation from key leaders throughout the region, called the Community Partnership for Energy Planning. This involves a cross-section of community leaders — including representation from Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay region — such as public officials, businesses, environmentalists, neighborhoods and economic development agencies, among others.
In Pinellas County, public involvement began last summer. We are committed to seeking broad community input and encouraging public involvement. That's why we're holding public meetings this early in the process, prior to any corridors being selected. These meetings are not required, but we value the opinion of all interested parties and are committed to a transparent, open process. There have already been a number of meetings, and there will be many more throughout the process.
Let me stress: No decisions have been made. We don't know where the lines will go. We will continue our public outreach process and include this feedback in our analysis. We do have a responsibility to plan to meet growing customer demand.
When decisions are made, potential environmental impact will be a priority. Progress Energy Florida has a track record of being a good environmental steward, and we understand the importance of Brooker Creek Preserve. We are committed to working with communities to minimize our impacts on the environment, homes and businesses.
We're seeking feedback on this project, which is why we encourage the community to attend one of our open houses.
Mark Wimberly, vice president, Progress Energy Florida's South Coastal region
Save the columns
In the Feb. 17 Latitudes article Moonlit magic, I was particularly struck by how much the accompanying photograph of the columns and steps at the U.S. National Arboretum resembled the facade of the Greek Revival Baptist Church on Fourth Street N, with its cascade of steps and rows of Corinthian columns.
It occurred to me that when the new owners tear down the church, they could possibly retain the columns and steps in a similar fashion as part of the "green space" for the Princess Martha property — if not the steps, then at least the beautiful columns. Perhaps they could be installed around a fountain in the garden or along the street as a tribute to the old church.
It might compensate somewhat for the loss of the entire building and be a visible reminder in years to come of what was once there.
James Studdiford, St. Petersburg
Not a good idea | Feb. 10, letter
I agree with the Feb. 10 letter writer when she asks about the new roundabout at Park Street and Villagrande Avenue S: "Whose brainstorm was this"?
It's a good question, not only about the roundabout, but also about speed bumps. How fast are you going when you're coming to a red light? How fast are you going as you make a turn onto Park Street from Pasadena? Who lives between Pasadena and Villagrande Avenue with all the pull?
In Dr. Delay's column it said we signed a petition for these. I never did, nor did many of my neighbors.
Sally Chesnes, St. Petersburg
Remove the circle
When is our city going to stop wasting our tax dollars on ridiculous projects? I'm speaking of the roundabout at Park Street and Villagrande Avenue, which is not only an eyesore but totally useless for traffic calming.
First, it was wasting our tax dollars to install it. Now the city has wasted more of our tax dollars to install a 3-foot-wide band of reflectors around it along with reflective paint stripes. All this does is narrow the visual lane, making it more unsightly than it already was.
There is also the issue of the four yield signs posted for every direction. Very few people know how to deal with a four-way yield situation, so everyone treats it just as they did before the roundabout: Since Park is the main avenue, traffic on it continues to flow unabated. Cars on Villagrande, which may number one or two every hour, treat the yield as a stop sign and wait for an opening.
I feel that if there is any more money slated for this roundabout, it should be spent removing this unnecessary and ineffective eyesore completely.
Tim Robinson, St. Petersburg