Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Honeymoon Island: Is best Florida park doomed to the bottom line?

It's like someone woke up one morning and said: You know, there just isn't enough disillusionment with Florida government these days.

Surely there must be some unspoiled patches of the state left to meddle with and make money from. Hey! How about Honeymoon Island?

Okay, so the Department of "Environmental Protection" is not just targeting our most popular state park — which, if you have not had the pleasure, is one stunner of a spot to kayak, fish, snorkel, and generally wander old Florida.

No, the DEP is looking at adding overnight camping and RV space at 56 state parks. At Honeymoon Island, that means 45 campsites on 17.5 acres, with amenities like roads, playgrounds, bathhouses and electric and water hookups. Naturally, private companies would build and operate the campgrounds, this being the state of our state.

So why would anyone want to mess with a successful, much-loved park that attracted more than a million visitors and $1.6 million in profit last year?

Because Honeymoon Island, like a lot of state parks, doesn't have overnight camping. Overnight camping brings in more people. More people, more money.

The park, by the way, boasts one of the few remaining virgin slash pine forests in the area. It's a great spot to see an owl, a gopher tortoise, an eagle, even — but keep that on the down-low, or they'll start charging $5 to let you view an osprey nest.

Yes, every dollar government spends should be scrutinized to see if we can do better. But have we really reached the point where absolutely nothing in Florida is worth protecting? (The current amnesiac talk of oil drilling indicates we might be getting there.)

But state parks are like this deal we made. This part stays Florida even if we develop the rest of the place until it looks like any other state in America. This stays protected and whole.

Until Tallahassee says it doesn't.

So what's a little change? In Florida, when we start to alter something — when we knock down, blacktop, bulldoze, build up and displace plants and animals — we generally don't get them back. Gone's gone. And we are very big on the slippery slope concept. Also on give-'em-an-inch.

Here is encouraging news: Upon hearing this, people did not shrug and say: Oh, well, nice park, but what can you do. They crowded a public hearing by the hundreds and made their presence known at an advisory meeting. No, no, no, and in case you didn't hear us, no. Leave Honeymoon Island alone. The state-appointed advisory group sounded a similar note, and the Pinellas County legislative delegation appears ready to give it the stinkeye as well.

Will anyone listen?

Though even fellow Republicans have stepped up to strongly oppose the changes to Honeymoon Island, Gov. Rick Scott says, "We have to make our parks available to people, with whatever amenities we can add to help people use the parks more." A monster roller coaster in amongst the ibis, perhaps.

The governor has spent his first months in office doggedly following his agenda to the point of ignoring the voices of many Floridians around him. Lately I keep thinking of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, when voices together are finally heard.

Maybe government will see the slash pine forest for the trees, so to speak, on this one.

Honeymoon Island: Is best Florida park doomed to the bottom line? 07/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 7, 2011 8:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  2. Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home

    Accidents

    ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  3. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child

    News

    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  4. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it

    News

    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Senate health care bill would be disastrous for Florida

    Editorials

    The frantic effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with something — anything — ranks raw politics over sound policy and threatens the health care of millions of Floridians. It is a desperate attempt to declare victory by shifting responsibility from the federal government …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks in August in Doral.