Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas officials move to eliminate state's toll booth at Fort De Soto entry

CLEARWATER — Saying they don't want to irritate people, county commissioners gave the go-ahead Tuesday to negotiations that could end with the elimination of the state tollbooth at the entry to Fort De Soto park.

Parkgoers would still have to pay the toll, but they would just pay it to the county employee who collects the entry fee to the park.

Visitors to the park at the southern end of the county have long paid a state toll — currently 35 cents for a two-axle vehicle — to spend the day at the park. But on Jan. 3, Pinellas began charging a $5 admission fee as a way to offset falling tax revenues and to pay for upkeep of county parks.

Although commissioners expected reduced attendance and a loud outcry from enraged visitors, neither seems to have materialized. County officials said Tuesday that they've received more complaints about the inconvenience of having to stop at two booths.

"The complaints I have heard have been about the backup, not about $5," county Commissioner Ken Welch said.

Commissioners agreed to let staff members continue negotiating a possible solution with state officials.

Under the proposal, the state tollboth would be eliminated. The county booth would remain and collect all money.

The amount that would be collected is unclear. Some commissioners supported the idea of collecting only $5. The county would then take the toll out of that amount and send it to the state.

Commissioner Susan Latvala said the "rationale for reducing (the county's) portion is to keep from inciting the public" with the traffic snarl and the need to pay two different governments in quick succession for admission to the park.

"That makes sense to me," Latvala said.

But others, like Karen Seel, thought drivers should pay both the toll and the county fee. First, the county needs the money; and second, the toll is expected to go up to 50 cents per two-axle vehicle on June 30. As tolls increase, the amount going to the county could significantly decrease. Seel also suggested that the county try to set up a system so drivers could use SunPass or a similar system to have the fee automatically paid as drivers pass the booth. Those drivers, she said, should get a discount.

In other action, commissioners agreed that they would like to be at the table when St. Petersburg begins discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays about staying in the county. They asked county attorney Jim Bennett to talk with St. Petersburg's attorney to find out the progress on the discussion and to ask that the commission be included in discussions.

Reach Anne Lindberg at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.

Comments

Updated: 1 hour ago
Mazzaro’s market set to reopen Tuesday after blaze damaged one of its warehouses

Mazzaro’s market set to reopen Tuesday after blaze damaged one of its warehouses

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market is scheduled to reopen Tuesday after an electrical fire broke out its dry goods warehouse Friday night.Dominic Horwath, a grocery manager at Mazzaro’s on 22nd Avenue N said staff spent Monday and the weekend...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

After winning Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep by the hot Yankees in New York, the Rays face arguably a tougher challenge tonight when they face a sizzling Astros team that just completed a 10-0 roadtrip and has won 11 straight overall.The Rays are ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Land O’ Lakes dance studio serves students and community

Land O’ Lakes dance studio serves students and community

LAND O’ LAKES — Lilly Jayska once cried and cowered at the notion of dancing on stage. Now, after four years of classes at Nicole’s Dance Center in Land O’ Lakes, the 10-year-old wants to dance solos. When asked to name her favorite type of dance, he...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — The federal government’s search for a home for its new Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic is focusing on the Little Road corridor in west Pasco.Three locations in the running for the VA clinic are identified in the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Will Gholston is painfully honest about a 2017 season that wasn't anything close to what he wanted it to be. Ask him about last year, and there are no parentheses in his world to soften what he remembers here."I just played (crappy), completely. That...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

A Tampa man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries on Sunday after he was rescued from a near drowning off the shores of Whiskey Joe’s Tampa Bar & Grill, a popular hangout on the beach of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.When police officers a...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

ST. PETERSBURG — Edward White Hospital, closed four years ago because of declining revenues, has been sold to developer Grady Pridgen for $2.7 million.Pridgen could not be reached Monday for comment. City officials said he has submitted plans for rem...
Updated: 3 hours ago