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Leave historic St. Petersburg shuffleboard courts alone

Recent actions by St. Petersburg City Council and mayor's office are very troubling. Keep the shuffleboard courts a public facility. You want to turn something that helps make St. Petersburg a unique place into something anyone can get anywhere: another restaurant/bar. St. Petersburg has about 1,000 restaurants and bars, but only one shuffleboard club. To take this facility and turn it into a private facility is completely unacceptable. What I see is history, what you see is dollar signs. You, yes you, want to take away a vital part of St. Petersburg's character and turn it in to a soulless vacuum.

Tell me why we, the citizens of St. Petersburg, should once again be asked to turn over public property to a private company. We balked when you wanted to turn over Albert Whitted Airport. We balked when you tried to take away Al Lang Stadium. And even though the shuffleboard club is a small project compared to the others, the principal is the same: Keep your grubby paws off.

Emanuel Matalon, St. Petersburg

Rooted in past, courts relevant for our future

As a resident and owner of multiple properties here, I was disappointed to hear about the possibility of the shuffleboard courts going away. My wife is a member and we use the courts at least once a month on Friday evenings. We believe it is a great alternative to the typical bar scene and has a layer of cultural diversity that St. Petersburg is famous for.

All of my conversations with out-of-town guests end in suggesting a few restaurants, the Dalí Museum and, of course, the shuffleboard courts. Looking around the city, I see plenty of fantastic things being done and I'm proud to call myself a resident of St. Petersburg. I feel that with all the improvements and building toward the future we also need to look in our past to see what is culturally relative for our future. Please consider the shuffleboard courts one of those culturally relevant pieces to the puzzle that will continue to make St. Petersburg a unique place to visit.

Matt Schneider, St. Petersburg

Unique courts draw out-of-town visitors

Last November, my wife, three friends and I came over from Orlando to participate in the St. Pete Shuffle.

I was aware of the club because of an image in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "This Place Matters" photography competition.

We shopped and dined in downtown St. Pete, and had a wonderful evening. My wife and I spent the night at a Pinellas County resort. Our whole getaway was built around a trip to the shuffleboard club. I daresay there is nothing else like it in Florida — individuals of all ages enjoying playing shuffleboard side by side on lively courts. The place was packed and everyone appeared to be having a great time.

When I got back to Orlando, I immediately joined the club, despite living an hour-and-a-half away. I told anyone who listened about what an amazing and fun evening we had. I returned earlier this year to show the club to a friend.

The point is that you have an incredible resource on your hands, and to allow it to become simply a restaurant property would be incredibly shortsighted and irresponsible. You would be preventing future generations from enjoying a terrific game and breaking one of the last links to your city's rich past. You have a real gem on Mirror Lake. No restaurant will ever make me drive to St. Pete. But I would happily make the trip to the shuffleboard club. Please carefully consider the long-term implications of your actions.

Rick Kilby, Orlando

Official: Chief must go | June 19

Story on Kenneth City police chief skewed

During my 50-plus years of service to Kenneth City, including three years as mayor and one term as a member of the Town Council, I have never read a more biased and skewed article about our town as was published in the June 19 Neighborhood Times. I am surprised that the reporter's editor allowed such profane trash to be printed in a prize-winning publication.

As mayor, I recommended the appointment of Douglas Pasley to be the successor to the late James Ernst. Chief Pasley came to the Kenneth City Police Department after a distinguished 26-year career with the Tampa Police Department, where he headed up the department's Aviation and Marine Unit. After his retirement from Tampa, he had an unblemished 16 years with the Indian Shores Police Department as a patrolman and sergeant.

After I left office, it is well known from the outset that the new mayor demanded that Chief Pasley resign. When the Town Council refused to give in to her demands, she began what now appears to be a concerted "witch hunt" to force Chief Pasley out of his position. The Town Council wisely said no; and, fortunately for Kenneth City, councilman Alan Schopp initially became the councilman in charge of the Police Department. He found that Pasley was doing an excellent job with his management of the department, and so noted in three good annual performance ratings of the chief.

Now comes Troy Campbell, Mayor Teresa Zemaitis' only ally on the council, and — with less than 90 days in office and without an ounce of law enforcement or public-safety experience — declares, among other things, that the Police Department is mismanaged and threatens to "… turn the chief into a crossing guard" and to "… put his a-- out on 54th Avenue … ," daring the chief's attorney to sue the town. He makes other irresponsible statements such as "I'm not afraid to put a chain on that department and shut it down," something he totally lacks the authority or the power to do.

It is interesting that there is a comment in the article about a lack of tactical training for the officers. It is my understanding that the common practice among small police departments when any incident reaches the level for a tactical operation is that it is handed off to the Sheriff's Office, which has both the equipment and manpower to handle these type of situations.

Lastly, the Town Council needs to immediately remove Troy Campbell as councilman in charge of the police department before he costs us taxpayers a ton of money in litigation expenses. And your reporter, Anne Lindberg, needs to begin writing more objective and balanced news accounts about Kenneth City operations and politics, especially about the police department.

Muriel H. Whitman, Kenneth City

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Leave historic St. Petersburg shuffleboard courts alone 06/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2011 4:31am]
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