Skyline takes shape | Jan. 7
A wall of towers isn’t progress
First of all, once the 17 projects currently under way are completed, there will be no "skyline." There will be a wall of buildings blotting out the sun and sky. St. Petersburg has become the very thing people from Tampa and other high-rise jungles came here to get away from.
One other thing that struck me as I drove through downtown is the poor quality of some of these structures. I was in the construction field for 25 years, and I saw firsthand what happens with flakeboard and wood-stud buildings such as one being built on Central Avenue. They don’t last very long.
Somehow St. Petersburg has become a giant Monopoly game, with prospective investors buying up and fencing in entire blocks at a time, just waiting for a check with the right amount of zeros. But that’s "progress," right?
Bob Dalzell, St. Petersburg
Plan calls for ‘rapid’ bus to beaches | Dec. 29
Problem with closing lanes
While the proposed bus rapid transit between downtown St. Petersburg and the beaches may, in theory, be a good idea, taking one lane of First Avenues North and South for a dedicated bus lane is shortsighted. Restricting traffic to only two lanes on those streets, which are already heavily traveled, will only create more congestion, and the beauty of the timed lights would be lost if vehicle traffic clogs the two remaining lanes.
It has not been proven that ridership by tourists and residents will offset this inconvenience. Rapid transit should not necessarily be based solely on cost effectiveness, but at the same time it would be difficult to ignore a system where empty or near-empty buses run every 15 minutes with 17 stops along the way. Part of the planning and budgeting for this project should include the caveat that if at the end of two years, ridership is less than one-third of the projected number, then the system would be discontinued and First Avenues North and South would have their third lane restored to the original configuration.
Greg Sembler, chairman, Sembler Co., St. Petersburg
Keep options open on transit | Jan. 7, editorial
Bus service is a disgrace
I hope a serious discussion resulting in meaningful action toward a transit solution starts in 2018.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit system is a disgrace. If it hasn’t already, it will certainly keep Tampa from being considered for a headquarters or major office from the type of A-list companies we would like to recruit.
Mission MAX, the budget-slashing makeover for the bus system, not only deprives hundreds of the most vulnerable from being able to get to work and doctors, but was a disaster in its implementation.
I own a small business. Two of my six employees ride the bus to work. Before MAX, these two would regularly notify me they were going to be late because of late buses and missed connections. Since the implementation, the problems have increased exponentially.
My employees not only arrive late, but are mad and frustrated because of problems, including:
• Drivers who don’t know the route they are driving. They are asking passengers where they should be turning.
• The "next bus" app that allows them to see when the next bus is coming is totally unreliable.
• One day a driver told my employee that his bus was an express and that he needed to catch the next bus. The next bus told him that bus was an express and that he should have gotten the previous bus.
• Recently a driver was notified while on route that his bus was an supposed to be an express — to the surprise of his passengers. When the driver told them he would not be making any stops before a very distant stop, they had to get off and walk a half-mile to the next stop to catch a different bus.
As am employer, I am bothered that my staff have such a hard time getting to work. But I am also bothered that by the time they come in the door they are frustrated and angry at all the problems they regularly encounter just trying to get to work.
A couple of years ago I took the bus to work one day when my car was in the shop. The bus took almost the same exact route I drove, and there is a bus stop right across the street from my office. The trip that takes 13 minutes to drive took over an hour to get to work on the bus.
For decades our leaders have turned a blind eye and refused to recognize the dilemma we are facing. Our community is headed recklessly toward unmanageable traffic congestion that will choke economic growth and negate some of the exciting plans being dreamed for our downtown area.
I grew up in Atlanta when they were building the MARTA rail line. It takes decades to plan. I shudder to think about how bad the traffic will get in the next decade or two.
Bradley Krantz, Tampa
Trump voices disdain for ‘s---hole’ nations Jan. 12
Divisive and racist remarks
President Donald Trump’s reported recent derogatory remarks about Haitian immigrants and his reference to African nations as "s---hole countries" are disgusting, divisive and, frankly, racist. The George Edgecomb Bar Association is the largest African-American bar association in Tampa Bay. Many of our members are of Caribbean or African descent, including myself, a small business owner and the proud daughter of Haitian immigrants.
America was built on the backs of immigrants. The sons and daughters of Haitian and African immigrants have gone on to become teachers, lawyers, doctors, scientists, engineers, politicians, business owners and so much more. Those immigrants instilled in their children the value of education and hard work. Any rhetoric that diminishes the contributions they have made and continue to make to American society is nothing more than a flagrant attempt to divide this nation along racial and ethnic lines.
GEBA has always stood for diversity and for the inclusion of all people. GEBA’s Executive Board stands in solidarity with our members and with all people of Haitian and African descent, who are intrinsically worthy of respect and deserve to be treated with dignity. We expect and demand better from the president of the United States.
Theresa N. Jean-Pierre Coy, president, George Edgecomb Bar Association, Tampa