Monday, December 11, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Twin Brooks renovation is about more than golf

The city of St. Petersburg owns three golf courses. Mangrove Bay and Cypress Links are in northeast St. Petersburg and are lush, well-maintained courses, each with a long list of amenities. The third and oldest course, Twin Brooks, is south of downtown, not nearly so well groomed and still dependent on a 1950s irrigation system. Mayor Rick Kriseman was bothered by the difference at Twin Brooks and recently persuaded the City Council to approve a $1.5 million renovation of the course. In that decision, and in some others since he assumed office in January, Kriseman is telegraphing that no area of the city will be left out when it comes to distributing attention and resources.

While campaigning for mayor last year, Kriseman played golf at Twin Brooks, which opened in 1957. He said he was disappointed by its condition. Within three months of taking office, Kriseman was working with staffers on a renovation plan. "We want all of our amenities, all of our facilities, to be of the same high quality in all areas of the city," he told the City Council in June.

Twin Brooks, at 3800 22nd Ave. S, has 27 acres, but only 17 to 18 are usable for golf. Yet the course has 18 holes, which has resulted in greens so tight that the city had to plant trees to stop players from getting beaned by golf balls. Drainage is poor in some areas and grass is spotty.

The city staff reviewed options for keeping the course at 18 holes or converting it to 12 or nine holes. The option recommended by the staff and approved by the council was for a 12-hole, par 3 design. Nine holes will be open to the public. Three will be reserved for use by an adult golf development program and by First Tee, an award-winning junior golf and life skills training program. First Tee is based at Twin Brooks, and the nonprofit group hopes to build a center there.

The renovation plan also calls for larger tees, a new irrigation system using reclaimed water, an upgraded driving range, better drainage and healthy grass.

The city will gather community feedback on the course design and then close the course next May for construction, which will likely take four or five months.

The City Council departed from policy in its unanimous decision to pay for the renovation from the fund created by the sale of the city's Weeki Wachee lands. The city's golf courses operate as an enterprise fund, meaning they are supposed to pay their own way through fees and sales. But a portion of Weeki Wachee funding is reserved for recreation, and no one on the council opposed using that money to raise standards at Twin Brooks.

Some Twin Brooks golfers argued against the renovation. The course is said to be ideal for learning to play golf, and it is popular with older golfers because of its tight design. Some who enjoy playing there said Kriseman should leave the course alone.

But the renovation of Twin Brooks is about more than just golf. It affirms that all of the city's golf courses deserve equal stewardship, no matter where they are.

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís 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 wonít 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, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís 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
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasnít enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, itís looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the cityís dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17