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Pinellas letters

Cuts at Boyd Hill: Short-term gains vs. long-term losses

Boyd Hill to lose rangers Feb. 4, story

Short-term gains vs. long-term losses

I was shocked to discover that the city of St. Petersburg has decided to remove five full-time rangers from their positions at the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. Some of these rangers have more than 20 years of experience at the park and bring to its care a wealth of knowledge, essential for the maintenance of the park and vital to the environmental education of its visitors.

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is one of the city's most valuable treasures. Located just minutes from downtown, the park features a wide range of native Floridian habitats, and a rich diversity of wildlife, both flora and fauna. People from around the world come to Boyd Hill, to bird-watch and enjoy the preserve's unique habitat and wildlife. It is a wonderful place to take a walk, to take pictures of birds or alligators, and to enjoy an oasis of calm in the midst of the city.

The decision to replace full-time, committed and experienced rangers with mostly part-time workers strikes me as enormously shortsighted. While I understand that budget shortfalls necessitate some changes in city government and programs, the extent of the cuts at Boyd Hill are drastic and unwarranted, and the short-term savings in worker benefits from these cuts cannot outweigh the long-term losses to this important resource that will follow if it is not cared for properly.

Nathan Andersen, St. Petersburg

Boyd Hill to lose rangers Feb. 4, story

Rangers' expertise crucial at Boyd Hill

I am in total shock that St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has eliminated the five full-time ranger positions at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. And shame on City Council members and staff if they advised him that it was a good idea.

In an urban area that is built out like St. Petersburg, it is so important to have areas like Boyd Hill that can give people a place to relax, unwind and connect with nature.

Managing a jewel like Boyd Hill requires the expertise that those eliminated rangers have provided. Without that expertise, the preserve will fall into a tangled mess of exotics and unsuitable habitat for the desirable species of flora and fauna that live and migrate through.

In the future when another politician is in Foster's place and he or she works to restore Boyd Hill, it will take far more money than the amount being saved now.

Please rescind the decision to eliminate the five full-time rangers at Boyd Hill.

Barbara Howard, St. Petersburg

Boyd Hill to lose rangers Feb. 4, story

Public had no input on this bad decision

I was shocked and appalled when I heard on local news that five full-time ranger positions are being cut from Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. This is one of the very few nature preserves left within the city limits, and its rangers have been a vital part of the community.

Several years ago, there was a similar proposal for cuts. But city residents were involved in the process; many of us gathered in front of City Hall to protest the cuts to full-time ranger positions. We also attended the City Council hearing inside. This time we had no such option.

Residents from all over the city enjoy this preserve. Many of us participate and volunteer annually in Art Arbor and hundreds attend. We also attend programs developed by rangers who have been employed by the city for years. Their experience is necessary for the safety of all those who visit this park.

Mayor Bill Foster is cutting positions from the "bottom up" at a time when people need their full-time jobs. He also does this at a time when city residents and tourists are looking for the most affordable recreation for their families. In addition, decreasing hours lowers revenue at a time when attendance is high.

Those of us who have held family memberships to this park would be happy to pay a little more to keep our full time rangers on staff.

As city residents, we would like to be included in this ongoing process as the mayor cuts our city services.

Cindy Hillman, St. Petersburg

Boyd Hill to lose rangers Feb. 4, story

Foster looking like Rick Baker redux

Here we go again. Well, it looks like another four years of the Rick Baker regime (just a different name and face) but still the same unfair antics at the city's expense.

How can Mayor Bill Foster justify slashing five full-time jobs directly dealing with the public yet keep a former deputy mayor who collects a city pension, a salary from USF and a current salary from the city of more than $100,000?

If I have the math figured out properly, at least three of the eliminated ranger jobs, if not more, could have been saved if Foster had eliminated this one position.

Barb Morlack, St. Petersburg

Are the priorities right on this move?

Ah, one city agency saving money by laying off park rangers and another agency spending money for new lighted dolphins on the sewage plant storage tanks. Is there something wrong with that thinking?

Len Wilson, St. Petersburg

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Cuts at Boyd Hill: Short-term gains vs. long-term losses 02/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 6, 2010 3:31am]
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