Let's brainstorm to help museum
I am a retired architect, longtime resident of Pinellas, and I painted at the old art museum in Belleair for many years. Many enjoyable hours were spent there with wonderful people. My life was enriched by it.
After the new Gulf Coast Museum of Art was built in Largo, we attended on open house. It was a chilly affair, but we became members. I attended classes, exhibits and productions in the little theater. My friend Thomas Murray became an instructor. He can inspire and bring forth the best in students.
Yet an almost deadly pall hung over the facility. The exhibitions were lifeless and oversurveyed by security personnel. Openings had little music or gaiety. I stopped attending and allowed my membership to expire.
The buildings are beautiful and well designed for their intended usage. I drive past them each morning as I go for my bike ride. It breaks my heart to know they are not being put to a cultural use.
I feel that a person with a true understanding of art, art education and how to create a social climate could bring the place to life. This person would have to promote an energetic public relations program. This person does not need to be highly trained in museum administration or have a long educational pedigree. We do not need one more stodgy, impersonal, tight little membership museum!
There must be people who similarly feel that something can be done with the facility without a tremendous financial burden on Pinellas County. I would appreciate meeting with them. The real estate people at the county told me that no definite plans have been made for the buildings, but possibly in June there will be.
I don't know how to put together revitalization of the museum all by myself, so I'm trying to start something to interest others. I will appreciate all of the suggestions and help others can contribute. My e-mail address is email@example.com.
Martin P. Fishback, Largo
Times is wrong about initiative
I am responding on behalf of the Islands Independence Initiative to your May 31 editorial, Islands Initiative wrong on Penny, property tax.
What is "wrong" and inaccurate is the editorial's headline. Your editorial agrees that 10 percent of Clearwater's population does pay 40 percent of the city's property tax. As to the Penny for Pinellas, we agree that the collection method outlined in the editorial is correct, and our mailer never stated anything to the contrary.
Your discussion of the projects financed on the islands by the Penny tax and the unmet requests are a clear example of the philosophical differences we contend exist between the city and those of us who pay taxes and live on the islands. For example, the desperate need for a parking garage for the past many years and the request for underground utilities have been deemed a low priority by the city.
The mailer further cited additional examples of the city's inability to understand the priorities of the three islands by its lack of responsiveness to the zoning issues on Sand Key and its failure to responsibly enforce the code restrictions for short-term rentals on Clearwater Beach.
The editorial conspicuously avoids the key question set forth in the mailer: "Is the possibility of self-governance a better solution" for the three islands? We are committed to answering that question through an evenhanded, methodical and deliberate examination. The mailer is an effective and valuable tool to inform the residents of this exploration into self-governance, raise the necessary funds and help gauge public support for our efforts. Is the more pertinent question this: "Why would the St. Petersburg Times find fault with such an inquiry by a group of concerned volunteers?"
JoEllen Farnham, spokesperson, Islands Independence Initiative Inc., Clearwater (Sand Key)
Time to turn down the volume
I don't need an alarm clock. I can guarantee that sometime during the 5 a.m. hour, someone will be riding near my house with the radio and bass turned up so loudly that my house shakes and the neighborhood dogs start to bray.
Some communities in Pinellas have a noise ordinance; it is time to make that countywide. I am tired of being awakened by inconsiderate drivers or having my body reverberate at a traffic light because of someone rudely inflicting their noise on me so I can't hear my own car's radio. It is time for Pinellas County to lower the boom!
Marsha Goldstein, Tarpon Springs