Friday, December 15, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Preserve Clearwater's green spaces

A decade ago, Clearwater had a bold plan that put parks at the center of efforts to create the public amenities that add to a city's livability. Every child was to have a playground within a mile of home, for example. But anemic property tax receipts have led the conversation to change. The city staff has told the City Council it wants to spend the next six months seeking the public's input on the park system's future, including possibly closing some of the 109 parks to save money and reinvest some of it in new park activities. City leaders should make sure that this conversation looks beyond a few budget cycles to the city's long-term needs. Green space in Florida's most densely populated county is not easy to come by.

For years, budget cuts have led Clearwater to scale back on its park offerings. The city has been removing rather than replacing playground equipment in some parks, for example. But now city staffers are talking bigger than just budget issues. They say park trends are changing, with more families opting for destination parks with lots of facilities instead of their neighborhood playground. Some want to enable the parks department to invest more in these facilities similar to Largo's Central Park. One possible site is Crest Lake, where the hope is that improvements might also curb the park's use by the homeless.

All that is a discussion worth having. But also important is that neighborhood parks can be a relief valve and green respite in urban areas and densely packed neighborhoods. Residents without yards or transportation depend on them for a break in the landscape or a diversion for energetic children. Population growth also means that over time, Clearwater is likely to become more densely populated, not less, and that public green space will become even more important to the city's livability.

Clearwater should examine the location and function of all its parks — some may well be little used and worth shedding in the interest of investing in the rest. But city leaders should make any decisions about closing parks carefully, with an eye on the long-term future, not just current budget woes or the latest recreation trend. A park that passes into private hands is usually lost to the public forever.

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Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17