Re: Neighbors bemoan state of Biltmore | Story, April 30
Biltmore's safety is vital to area
The article on the state of the Belleview Biltmore was a disappointment to those of us who live in close proximity to the hotel. Your reporter failed to raise the important questions that concern us, even though she was provided with a copy of them.
The article reported accurately that no one is on duty in the hotel from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. and that the hotel is monitored remotely by video cameras and a computer.
What the article failed to address is who monitors those cameras and how many of them are there. I understand that an employee of the current owner monitors them from his home computer. What happens when he is away from his computer or asleep? Those cameras should be monitored by a professional alarm company on a 24/7 basis. Better still, someone should be on duty in the hotel making rounds.
Is the sprinkler system inspected by the fire marshal? Is the main gate valve that controls the flow of water to those sprinklers connected to an alarm monitored by an outside company so that if a vandal or an arsonist gets into the hotel one night, turns off the water and sets a fire, someone will know about it immediately and notify authorities?
In the event of a fire, will toxic materials that could affect the health of residents be released into the air — things like asbestos and melting plastics? Do the town of Belleair and Pinellas County Emergency Management have any plan to evacuate neighboring residents? There is only one small road leading into the complex and in the event of a fire it will be clogged with police and fire units responding. How will our residents, many of them elderly, be evacuated in an orderly and safe manner?
So far, our only solace as residents concerned with the potentially disastrous effects of a fire on our health and property are the words of Belleair Mayor Gary Katica at the last meeting of the Homes Association. The mayor responded to our concerns with the comment that we need not worry about a fire since the wood in the hotel is "so petrified it will not burn."
We need, and as taxpayers are entitled to, more than that from our elected and appointed officials, from the mayor to the fire marshal. And we need more than superficial coverage from our local newspaper.
John Prevas, Belleair
Re: Keep Ellis name, family says | Story, May 1
Don't change hospital's name
I do hope our city administration does not support the Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital name change. However, their history is not good, as was evident when they dumped the name Coburn Park and substituted Craig Park.
We too easily forget our history and those who made historical contributions. The role the Coburn family had with the establishment of this park is buried, as will be the name Helen Ellis and her gift of a modern hospital.
Tarpon Springs residents who gave much should be honored, but not at the expense of those great people who came before them. Will our city use its influence to do what is right?
Sam Mack, Tarpon Springs
Compliments for traffic calming
The Clearwater section of the St. Petersburg Times seems to revel in writing negative comments about the attempts to calm the never-ending speeders in neighborhoods. I am at one of those areas regularly and I can say that not only did the traffic calming help enormously in Morningside Estates in Clearwater, but it helped to beautify a sagging neighborhood.
I think the city needs to hear some compliments and not all the criticism.
Harriet P. Sherwood, Clearwater
A mother's love is a treasure
On this Mother's Day, please consider yourself very lucky indeed if your mother is living. Even nicer would be if your mother lives nearby. If you don't do anything else, just give your mother a big kiss, a warm hug and let her know that she is special to you.
There is nothing like a mother's love. I only wish that my mother was alive so I could tell her how much I love her. I miss her dearly. To all mothers: Happy Mother's Day.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
Can't see the trees for the billboards
On Sunday, April 24, in the Clearwater & North Pinellas Times section was a short item about the city of Clearwater giving away free trees.
Then on Monday, April 25, there was a full article about the bill that state Sen. Greg Evers is putting forward that will allow the billboard industry to cut down trees at will, just so we will be blinded by the billboards' power-hungry floodlights and invaded by their visual pollution.
Can I take the free trees I get from the city of Clearwater and plant them in place of the trees the greedy billboard companies will be cutting down?
Mike Slama, Palm Harbor
Tree and shrub giveaway a success
Many thanks to the city of Clearwater for the great giveaway of free trees/shrubs at the Arcturus Avenue City Nursery on April 30. I was very impressed by the quality and quantity of the trees and shrubs offered, and the most efficient manner in which the city employees handled the large number of cars and citizens. As the happy recipient of two robust azalea plants (one white and one red) I was once again very pleased that I'm a Clearwater homeowner.
Bill Schwob, Clearwater