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Hernando Comprehensive Plan for Recovery requires careful thought

Recovery plan requires planning

Just when you thought there was nothing left to argue about, here comes the Hernando Comprehensive Plan for Recovery.

If you said "yes" to "Should local government assist in solving the foreclosure problem?" then the very idea of action is in the right direction.

While $2.5 million is a lot of money, it is but a fraction of the reserves that were increased last year. Reserves are meant to be spent on emergencies, and the rate of foreclosures is certainly an emergency that affects the whole county.

There are many unanswered questions about the program (cons, if you wish) — lack of income guides, competition with other county programs, costs of program administration, use of nonbinding good-faith statements, non-essential purchases — that make the vetting by the Business Development Committee a must.

The pros of the program seem to be about 700 foreclosed properties off the market, an additional $162,500 in sales tax (assuming all spent in Hernando), and an actionable public/private program.

Only when the economic impact of spending $2.5 million over so many months is analyzed (including any job creation), will the true value of the program be seen.

As for the self-serving purposes of the program, I am not concerned if the county as a whole reaps a larger benefit. Don't forget Atlas Shrugged.

There should be programs to prevent foreclosures, to help during the foreclosure process and following foreclosure.

Bob Widmar, Weeki Wachee

People need jobs, not gift cards

Apparently gift cards aren't just for birthdays anymore. When you have no idea what to get someone for their birthday, you go with gift cards. Apparently, a Hernando County commissioner thinks that's a good idea for the local economy also. Commissioner Jim Adkins wants to offer gift cards, $2.5 million of our tax money, to home buyers in the county.

In the article it states "The goal would be to entice home buyers into purchasing foreclosed properties. At the same time, gift cards the buyers receive would infuse the local economy with cash."

I'm sure Mr. Adkins' heart is in the right place. But perhaps his research isn't. Foreclosed homes and short sales are Hernando County's bestselling listings already.

What the county needs, Mr. Adkins, is jobs. Jobs that help to move this county away from a construction-based economy and into something a bit more sustainable. Jobs that will make it possible for people to move to the area and find work, so they can pay for the house you want them to buy with your gift cards.

If we had schools with computers less then 10 years old, and teachers 10 years older than their students, perhaps more people would find Hernando County a great place to settle down and buy a home.

Or perhaps, Mr. Adkins, you should spend that money on job training for all the unemployed residents of the county. Or perhaps an increased incentive for green companies to set up shop right here on the Nature Coast.

Or maybe, you can give those gift cards to some of Hernando County's longtime residents. You know, the ones whose tax money you are about to spend, who can't find jobs and are losing their homes and adding to the inventory of foreclosed homes faster than your gift card program will be able to sell them.

It is completely ridiculous that this county still remains on course to build, build, build. Can't we change the station and play a different tune for a while? How about turning the old Kmart building into a multiple "cottage industry" location where people can go find work? How about setting up a county-sponsored weatherizing class for all those unemployed construction workers? After the class, they have a new job skill. How about a county tax cut or credit for homeowners that install solar panels?

How about a county-sponsored, resident-operated, solar panel factory in the industrial park? The panels could be given out to homeowners and tied into the grid. Then both the county and the homeowner could benefit from a lower electricity bill every month.

How about leasing the Boy Scout camp to the Renaissance Fair or some other tourist attracting event for a few months out of the year? It just sits there empty for most of the year.

How about county-sponsored, resident-operated, eco-tours of the Nature Coast while it can still be called that?

Or, if you must build, build, build, how about pushing for the builders to set a new standard on eco-friendly homes? Or a subdivision that is designed from the ground up to be green and self-sustaining? Something that attracts national attention and sets a standard for others to meet.

Or, how about a green certification program for homeowners? The county could offer courses to Realtors or appraisers or inspectors to teach them how to certify a home as green. Then that home would receive a credit or additional exemption on their property taxes. This works wonderfully in Austin, Texas.

New ideas are needed, Mr. Adkins, and yours is a step in the right direction, as it shows you can think outside the box. You just need a bigger box.

Chris Gross, Brooksville

Dredging delays hurt county's credibility | Feb. 8 editorial

Dredge delay is not official's fault

Your recent editorial on the dredge project unfairly blames Charles Mixson for the latest delay in getting the permit. The reality is that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was ready to issue the permit and defend the decision to do so at an administrative hearing.

Inexplicably, the attorney hired by the county to help us through the hearing ordered tests at the eleventh hour to prove above and beyond state DEP standards of review that the channel sediment is not contaminated. I'm sure he expected the samples to be clean, but the lab reported unacceptable levels of oil and grease in the samples (approximately 50 parts per million in both samples).

Considering boats don't moor in the channel and daily tides continuously flush and exchange the water, significant concentrations of oil and grease would not be expected to occur there (which is why the samples were not required by DEP). Sediment with this level of oil and grease would be visibly stained and odoriferous, and may even create a sheen on the surface of the water when disturbed. I've spent a good deal of time in that channel with a spear gun, probing the bottom, picking up rocks (that's what geologists do), peering under ledges, and I've never seen any evidence of contamination. I also had the opportunity several years ago to examine all of the core samples collected along the path of the planned dredge on behalf of a client that was considering a bid for the spoil. None of these samples displayed any evidence of contamination. So, I will not be surprised if the unfavorable test results cannot be duplicated.

I've seen all sorts of complaints in your paper about Mr. Mixson's selection of spoil sites. Obviously, both the Manuel site near Eagle's Nest Drive and the backup site at the abandoned wastewater treatment plant were good choices from a technical standpoint, as evidenced by DEP's blessing of both. I'll bet there isn't a potential disposal site anywhere in Hernando Beach that wouldn't be challenged by someone.

I am confident Mr. Mixson will get the dredge project permitted and the channel construction under way in time to obtain the state funding. Let's all support him.

George Foster, Bayport

Dump dredged sand out in gulf

Whoever came up with the name ''the dreaded dredge'' sure had a lot of foresight.

Here we are, I forget how many years since this started, 15 or 16 years ago, and now we find out the contamination level of the sand to be dredged exceeds some limit set up by a state government agency.

Why not pump the sand on to barges and deliver them, one after the other, 7 to 10 miles out into the gulf. The Gulf of Mexico has absorbed runoff from surrounding states for centuries. I think it could handle a little Hernando Beach sand.

Take the larger rocks from the dredge and place them on the existing spoil sites. They will make great hurricane barriers.

Jim Smith, Hernando Beach

We are at our worst on the road

An elderly woman in a gold or light beige Chrysler Sebring rear-ended us on Mariner Drive. When we pulled over to exchange licenses, she floored it and drove off.

Well, you with the black plate in the front with a picture of a red rose, guess who is looking for you? Yes, you are a sign of the age we live in.

How about the elderly, grandmother type at the light who does not proceed when it turns green and the person behind her beeps the horn ever so gently and the bird sign is waved.

How about your friendly banker who is always there to help you, really. No need to write about that now, do we?

One could go on and on but you get the picture. Yes, a sign of the times.

Robert Melaccio Sr. Spring Hill

Hernando Comprehensive Plan for Recovery requires careful thought 02/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 9:11pm]

    

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