Honeymoon Island listed for RV camp | June 25
Site location for camping is key
We are excited that the Department of Environmental Protection is proposing to build camping facilities on Honeymoon Island. We think that encouraging the public to get closer to nature is an important goal, and Honeymoon Island offers some great experiences.
Our concern is the location of the proposed facilities on the island.
The proposed area is just south of the nature trail that allows access to everyone but especially to birders to observe year-round and migratory birds on the island. The campsite will block that access and force people to park at a more remote location. Also more activity in that area will affect the bird population.
Second, the proposed camping area is on part of the island that is original, not man-made, and minimal impacts on that area should be preserved.
A good portion of the southern end of the island was man-made by pumped fill, which created the rocks on the beach. This would seem to be a better location as it was intended for more people and has sewer, water and a road system. The filled area also has higher elevations than the natural areas.
While we support camping on the island, what disturbs us most is the site selection. Where are the site alternatives? This location presentation makes us assume the private contractor got to cherry-pick the site.
Susan and Richard Gehring, Dunedin
Honeymoon Island listed for RV camp June 25
State shouldn't compete with private campgrounds
There are eight campgrounds within 10 miles of Honeymoon Island State Park. Vacancy rates are estimated to be between 20 percent and 80 percent depending on the season and campground. It is one thing to turn over an existing state operation to private management; it is quite another to create a new service in direct competition with local companies. The state should not compete with these Florida businesses for limited camper dollars.
Public safety should be the prime government concern. Access to this small barrier island is via a narrow causeway and three bridges. On weekends and holidays, causeway traffic is often backed up for an hour. Rescue vehicles sometimes face excessive traffic. In addition, the island is vulnerable to hurricanes. Timely evacuation will be more difficult with campers on the island.
Michael D. Knox, Dunedin
Oil prices hint at relief | June 24
Pumping up the vote
President Barack Obama has been quoted as saying he would tap our Strategic Petroleum Reserve only if there were a catastrophic need. Well it turns out that there is one: his concern for his political future. This obvious ploy may get him some votes, but it is not going to solve our energy problem.
We need a government-sponsored program to produce more oil here, responsibly. Procrastination robs us of the lead time required in our attempts to catch up and be self-reliant. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is not our friend. It is our supplier, and we are the addicted user. That's not a good place to be.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole
Money won't solve problem
I saw a recent news report in which a school system employee was complaining about Gov. Rick Scott's school budget cuts and said that the school system was doing a good job and did not deserve such cuts. I have heard the same sort of thing from other employees of the school system. What are they talking about?
The school system in this state (and many others for that matter) is atrocious. I don't blame the teachers for this, but I do blame their leadership (unions). I also blame the administration of the school system and the parents who don't take responsibility for their children.
When schools fail, there is always a cry for more money. Am I the only one who sees that this is not working? In good times and in bad, with more funding or less funding, the school system is still a failure.
It is time to resort to a more proven method: capitalism. Attach a profit motive to education and what will result is excellence. Schools will compete with each other striving to be the best to attract the parents' dollars. A voucher system for every child in the state who attends school would apply one the of most treasured freedoms in our society — the freedom of choice — to education.
Martin Turner, Trinity
Readers should be grateful to the Times for letting us know the frightening things going on in Tallahassee. Four stories are particularly noteworthy.
The Florida Senate president is joining with Gov. Rick Scott in opening the door to offshore drilling and to new nuclear power. How short do they think Floridians' memories are?
Our fragile Honeymoon Island and other state parks are to be up for bids by private companies for camping sites and RVs.
The Legislature turned down several million from the federal government that would have helped remove patients from nursing homes and provide them with similar care in their own homes at less cost. How cruel!
And to top it off, Scott, who seems to do nothing for Florida's thousands of jobless, is paying his new chief of staff $189,000.
Jane Whiteside, Tampa
Community service should begin at home June 17, commentary
Doing service is enriching
A Florida high school student can earn much of his or her college tuition from a basic Bright Futures scholarship by making decent grades and doing nothing else. As a senior at Florida State University who benefits from Bright Futures, I am appalled our state has been giving away money for years to students who have not given back to our communities.
Requiring community service is the best thing we can do for high school students in Florida. My own requirement of 200 hours helped me to become involved in my community, learn important lessons about giving back, and even earn extra scholarships in college. Community service helps students to expand their horizons, introducing them to new mentors and members of their community. It can also help curb antisocial behavior.
I feel sorry for parents who complain about the "burden" of community service requirements. They are clearly missing the point.
Judith Tankel, Dunedin