Ensure money is used to save land
I and the Gulf Restoration Network are strongly opposed to any attempts to divert critical funds needed for the success of the Hernando County Environmentally Sensitive Lands program (ESL) to other county facilities or programs. The ESL program, established by voters through referendum, is an essential program in Hernando County and the clear intent of the voters to tax themselves to protect conservation lands needs to be respected.
Commissioners should respect the will of the voters and protect the ESL program and ensure all money collected for the program stays in the program.
Florida's rich natural heritage is woven through the wild places that all of us own together here in Hernando County and that are managed for us in trust by our local government. These amazing natural places, places that define what it means to be a Floridian, are the birthright of every Floridian and belong to future generations as they belong to us.
One of the most incredible and enjoyable things my family shares together is time spent exploring and enjoying our public lands here in Hernando County. We have hiked through Cypress Lakes Preserve many times as a family. These places help our family bond, and help introduce our children to their natural heritage. We need more places like this.
The legacy being passed to them was passed to me by my parents and grandparents. I want my children to see a Florida black bear in the wild, to fish clean waters, hike through longleaf pines and cypress trees, hear birds and frogs calling, and pass those experiences on to their children.
We should all work to ensure that our public lands are valued and protected, and that our grandchildren know the Florida our grandparents knew. Each generation must protect the right of the next generation to know and love natural Florida. That is particularly true given the lands we are blessed with here in Hernando County. We have great opportunities to acquire conservation lands, and our failure to do so will be judged by future generations.
Our public lands here in Hernando County provide tremendous public benefits at little cost to Floridians. They help filter our water, protect our communities from flooding, provide critical habitat for wildlife that we love, and create economic activity through recreation and eco-tourism.
In the Nature Coast they provide some of the best and most sustainable economic development opportunities we have. People come here to explore and enjoy nature and the amazing mosaic of wetlands, uplands and sandhills, rivers, and coastlines we are blessed with. Our public lands nourish our spirits, and our economy.
Florida Nature Coast coordinator, Gulf Restoration Network, Ridge Manor
Is dredge project really necessary?
The county heads into uncharted waters with over 13 years of legal issues, miscalculations, poor planning and poor oversight including poor judgment by the county commissioners, currently David Russell and Jeff Stabins, and county administrators, currently David Hamilton. The Hernando Beach channel dredge project is now moving into another phase. Hernando County commissioners will entertain Administrator Hamilton's proposal to become general contractor for the Hernando Beach dredging project.
Hamilton has requested Director of Transportation Services Susan Goebel and others to come up with a plan by Feb. 1.
Surprisingly, after all this time we have spent $4.92 million on the project of which the state has reimbursed us $3.19 million of the promised $6 million which will be required to be returned to the state if the project is scrapped. The biggest surprise is that the project has only a 6 percent completion result while expensing more than 50 percent of available funds for the project. This has all been accomplished over the term of the project where most of the $4.92 million went to the consultants, contractors and attorneys: $2.2 million to the project consultant, the Halcrow Group, and $1.7 million to the contractor, Orion Dredging Services. The balance of expended funds of $1 million is not identified.
During the public comment period a very astute constituent posed a question to the commissioners "has anyone consulted with the Army Corps of Engineers?" The response never came. There are many questions surrounding this project. Has there or ever been a cost-benefit analysis conducted to determine the necessity of this project? If so who benefits besides the consultants and engineering firms and obviously the Hernando Beach residents and their property values? Should taxpayer dollars regardless of the source state or local be used for the benefit of the few? Maybe on Feb. 1, Mr. Hamilton and our commissioners can answer these questions.
Vito J. Delgorio Sr., Spring Hill
Sinkholes lead to a lot of questions
Sinkholes scare me.
Do builders tell home buyers if there are sinkholes in the area? Do builders have to guarantee that the house being sold does not have a sinkhole under it? How long is this guarantee good for and what does it pay?
If you sell your house do you (by law) have to have it inspected and present the results of the inspection to the prospective buyer?
I know there are companies that shore up a foundation of a structure. Could this be done before a structure is built on it? Should a home builder be required to shore up the land below the structure before anything is built on it?
Why would anyone buy a house that may lose nearly all of its value if a sinkhole develops after the sale?
Should home buyers have a lawyer on standby?
John Albert, Spring Hill