Recycling: There's more to it June 4, guest column by Rick Baker
It's time to lead on curbside recycling
While I applaud Mayor Rick Baker's efforts at helping St. Petersburg to become more "green," there is a long way to go. While I agree the issue of curbside recycling needs to be studied more thoroughly, there are huge benefits that the mayor didn't touch on.
Americans throw away enough plastic water bottles to equal 17-million gallons of crude oil per year. I feel that burning recyclable items, especially ones made from petroleum products, is not being "green." While there are costs associated with curbside recycling, the costs to the environment and to the future of our children and grandchildren will be higher if we do nothing.
There is a trend nationally toward mandatory recycling. If we take the initiative now and get the Pinellas populace to buy in, we can be a role model and an example to the rest of the country. The city of Naples has made recycling mandatory for all businesses within the city limits with several minor exemptions. I applaud the Pinellas County Commission for researching curbside recycling for the entire county. What we need now on this issue is bold leadership, not excuses.
Don Margeson, St. Petersburg
Cyclists say thanks
The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club wishes to express its appreciation to the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County for installing "Share the Road" signs on San Martin Boulevard NE. The city, in particular, is to be commended for living up to its designation as a "Bicycle Friendly Community."
San Martin Boulevard is an important link for cyclists as it connects the very popular Friendship Trail Bridge and the city of Tampa with St. Petersburg.
As Florida law indicates, bicycles are vehicles, and thus, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Not only must cyclists "share the road" with automobiles and obey all traffic laws, motorists also must "share the road" with bicycles, and obey all traffic laws, including passing a bicycle with 3 feet or more of clearance. We believe these signs will help make San Martin Boulevard NE a safer road for all. Thanks to the mayor, the City Council and the county for encouraging all of us to "Share the Road."
Tim Butts, president, and the board of directors of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club Inc.
Brooker Creek Preserve
Plan should protect
While there are some good ideas in the county's proposed management plan for the Brooker Creek Preserve, I can't support it because the plan contains amendments to the Pinellas County Comprehensive Plan that I believe threaten the integrity of the preserve.
First, the proposed plan designates nearly a third of the preserve as an area where pumping of groundwater is permitted as long as it facilitates the "provision of high quality potable water" or reduces the "potable water demand." These two broad criteria can be construed to include many things and certainly would have given the green light to the county's past plan to pump water from the preserve to irrigate a golf course. The potential negative impact to the plants, animals and ecosystems of the preserve is significant.
Another equally disturbing part of the proposed plan allows the use of up to 260 acres in the preserve north of Keystone Road for "water supply infrastructure/structures." This could include projects ranging from water treatment plants to reservoirs.
Using the Brooker Creek Preserve for other purposes should only be done as a last resort. The proposed management plan makes sure that will not be the case, because groundwater pumping and "water supply infrastructure/structures" are specifically permitted. In any event, I don't think either of these ideas should be made part of any management plan for a nature preserve.
The proposed plan should be evaluated based on what it says and how that could potentially affect the Brooker Creek Preserve. I believe this plan would give permission to use the preserve for nonenvironmental purposes while providing very little of the additional environmental protection that is greatly needed.
In essence, this plan will designate a significant portion of the preserve as "land and resources reserved for other purposes." In my opinion, accepting this plan is accepting the potential spoiling of an established and designated nature preserve. I don't think that is a risk worth taking.
Please contact your county commissioners to encourage them to create a Brooker Creek Preserve management plan that protects it as a nature preserve instead of one that designates it as a "land and resource bank."
Mathew Poling, Palm Harbor
Proposed new ballpark
It is an absolute insult that we are even asked to contemplate the building of a new ballpark during these times.
Do people know what it means when we are closing schools? It means that people are moving out of our county because they can no longer afford to live here. It means teachers, police, emergency medical personnel and firefighters are no longer able to keep living in our community. Without these vital resources, a community cannot be maintained. So let's build a new ballpark! Is this something we should have on the table?
If baseball hasn't caught on by now, I highly doubt a new playing venue is going to change that. The folks who want this don't need the money. But they are certain to make a lot more. When is the mayor going to open his eyes and realize the problems in our city: homelessness, black-on-black crime, cops playing shoot-'em-up, foreclosures, insurance issues. The list goes on, but we're wasting time talking about building the ballpark. It's an insult to thinking people in St. Petersburg.
Teresa Carlton, St. Petersburg