Leave SunWest as a natural park
Bill Stevens is correct in saying 20 years can dim some memories. But the years have not dimmed my memory of watching, from a second-story window, the sight of my brand new full-size van bobbing like a cork in the water surrounding the house. I can never forget the sadness as a neighbor told me of the loss of her keepsake family letters from her grandmother in Russia. Or the dismay I felt on finding another neighbors' wedding photos a long way from their home.
From that second-story window, I could look directly south, less than a mile, to the area now known as the future SunWest Harbourtowne development. That early morning, it was a sheet of Gulf water as far as I could see, with only the tops of trees sticking out closer to U.S. 19.
This same land is now slated to have 2,500 homes, a resort and businesses, in addition to a park that is more a parking lot for boat trailers than recreation space. Pasco County has permitted and continues to promote a development in a coastal high hazard zone that will put people in harm's way.
Imagine if the whole property was a park, as intended originally, drawing nature-based tourism to the Nature Coast. The current issue of Audubon magazine, a national publication, has an article and an advertisement from Pasco County for the Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. With the diversity of habitat that currently exists there, SunWest could be a crown jewel of a park, attracting birders from all over the world. Camping, kayaking, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing and fishing are just some of the possible attractions to a real park on the Gulf, attracting lots of heads in beds.
Julie Wert, Aripeka
First the Penny tax, now gas tax
Finally, the county commissioners have shown their true colors. The people of Pasco County gave them the penny sales tax they were pleading for during the last election. And now they have no problem sticking it to the very same people that tried to work with them.
Raising the gasoline tax by five cents per gallon puts the burden on the backs of the middle class and working poor of this county. They say if not gasoline tax, then it will have to be a property tax increase. Well, by not raising the property tax, they are protecting wealthy campaign donors and the rich.
I say raise the property taxes. They are too low now. And, by the way, wasn't this the same commissioners that wanted to lower impact fees that would have gone toward roads?
Dave Trump, Holiday
Let's keep athletics local
In 2000, a group of eight fathers, including myself, met to try to figure out a way to form an athletic association for Wesley Chapel. Our goal was to have sports activities to offer to our children and others in Wesley Chapel since neither the county nor the school board provided them for us.
Over the past 12 years Wesley Chapel Athletic Association, WCAA, served nearly 10,000 families and over 30,000 participants and currently offers athletic activities to 3,500 families and nearly 8,000 participants in many different sports. WCAA has held practices, regular scheduled games and matches, tournaments and events of all kinds which have benefitted the people of Wesley Chapel and their children as well as Pasco County.
When the Wesley Chapel District Park opened on Boyette Road, WCAA was asked to provide sports equipment, grass seed, concession equipment, staff and volunteers as well as tens of thousands of dollars annually from usage fees and payment for costs like electric. Much of the equipment used there is owned by WCAA which has, at every turn, assisted the county in this regard at its own expense.
Now that Pasco County has committed to building a fully functional sports park in Wiregrass, for some reason WCAA is not considered a viable option to operate the facility. Instead the county is considering paying someone from a different county, to design, build and operate a facility for which they do not have current participants. An outsider does not have the local experience to operate, as we do, and will not be of sufficient size to compliment the current park on Boyette Road.
Maybe it's time for incorporation of Wesley Chapel so we may bring some of the support back from the west Pasco commission elite to our quaint little hamlet.
Greg Vonderheide, Wesley Chapel