No more Florida Forever? Jan. 23 guest column by Eugene M. Kelly
Environment is a good investment
A big thank you to Florida Native Plant Society president Eugene M. Kelly for a thoughtful article regarding Florida Forever. At least two Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission species management plans, the Bald Eagle Management Plan and the Draft Peregrine Falcon Management Plan have some reliance on the Florida Forever funds and programs for their success because land acquisition is a key strategy for preserving critical habitat.
Those plans' annual recurring costs are $315,080 and $25,475 respectively. Important parcels have been identified for acquisition such as "Florida Keys Ecosystem," which is categorized as a high priority project.
If land acquisition becomes so severely limited that these plans won't work, then A) we won't be spending our money wisely now, B) it will be wasteful of the millions of dollars spent to bring species such as the bald eagle off the endangered species list, and C) strict statewide encroachment laws should be enacted instead of relying on "guidelines."
Florida's population is expected to double by 2060. We need to know how we want to handle that growth before we build more roads. Building a bunch of roads to nowhere would be very short-sighted and perpetuate our problems.
How about creating more jobs for smart growth planners and spending more time in our planning phases from now on? How about revitalizing our tourism industry and taking bragging rights on the beauty of Florida?
The more public lands we own, the more prosperous all of us are. Building roads with strip centers and houses along them will only add more unfunded future maintenance when we cannot keep up or fund the projects we already have under way or fill the houses we now have for sale.
Now is the time to pause on development and use what we currently have more efficiently, at least until there is a better plan that is promising to greater numbers of people. As President Barack Obama said in his inaugural address, "A nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous."
Barbara Walker, Palm Harbor
School board jobs should be unpaid
I was dismayed to learn that part-time Pinellas County School Board members collected as much as $40,000 more than is received by many full-time teachers.
Volunteerism is still very much alive. I think it is time to rethink compensation for School Board members.
I'm sure volunteers can be recruited to assume this responsibility, especially from the corps of educators retiring in Florida.
Candidates requiring compensation would still find it attractive to be paid expenses plus compensation for each meeting attended.
I hope our Legislature will come up with more support for education, especially for our teachers.
Virginia M. Adams, Tarpon Springs
Sites for homeless debated Jan. 15 story
Let soup kitchen stay where it is
Does the Clearwater City Council have no more pressing issues to battle over than kicking human beings who are already scraping along through life, wondering where their next meal will come from?
A wonderful human being, Mary Lou Guthart, has been at the helm of the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen for many years, and now in the twilight of her life is pleading with the City Council, "Move us to where? Where are they going to find a building like this to put us in?"
Please, city officials, do all in your power to leave this great organization alone. There has to be a better solution for this minor problem, as human life is far more important than downtown development.
A.J. Voiland, Dunedin