Moving forward on Lens is best for city
Chances are, you've seen the teal-colored campaign signs emblazoned with the words Build the Pier, Vote No popping up in front of homes and businesses across St. Petersburg. And no, it's not a typo; residents really have to vote NO on Tuesday to support construction of the new pier.
Confusion and ballot referendums have long been good company. Yet, our burgeoning waterfront district, whose restaurant and shop owners are relying on the new pier to lure more foot traffic downtown, need voters to understand what is really at stake here.
Essentially, folks are being asked to vote on whether to cancel the Lens architect's contract thus making a NO vote one that supports progress and development. Downtown business owners cannot wait another eight years or more for the design and permitting process to begin anew while the structurally unsound inverted pyramid remains a padlocked eyesore.
Continuing forward with the new pier is our best and only option.
Heather Grzelka, St. Petersburg
No economic gain
There are many piers and boardwalks along the Eastern shoreline, some of the more popular being Atlantic City, N.J., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Ocean City, Md. Some are owned by municipalities and some by developers. These piers all seem to have shops, restaurants, attractions and some have amusement rides. According to National Geographic magazine, the piers are economically vital to the communities they serve like the one at Belmar, N.J., which generates at least $3 million each year in summer revenue for a town of 5,800 residents.
The business model of the Lens is: Spend $50 million on something that generates little or no revenue and will cost close to $700,000 per year to operate. Didn't we make the same mistake on the last pier that operated $1.4 million in the red each year?
William G. Childress, Oldsmar
Three teens in bus beating face judge | Aug. 14
Imagine a reversal
Imagine if the young man who was beaten did not have the protection of the bus seats. Imagine if the bus driver had intervened. Now, imagine if the three teens doing the beating had been white and the victim had been black. We would have been subjected to the race-baiting tantrums of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and juvenile justice would have been pressured to impose a much harsher sentence.
Polly White, St. Petersburg
Protect this rarity
Last night I had the distinctive pleasure of taking a night hike through Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. As darkness fell, the calls of tree frogs, the rasp of cicadas and the whisper of the breeze through palmetto fronds created a floating symphony. With flashlights covered in red cellophane, my companions and I took a peek into the surprisingly busy world of nocturnal animals: gators patiently patrolling the edge of Lake Maggiore, a startled marsh rabbit dashing toward the creek and swimming (yes, swimming!) away, an orb-weaver spider repairing its web in busy silence. I will remember this hike for a long time, because it reminded me of the incredible persistence and creativity with which nature's citizens confront the same problem we all face: how to make a living.
That's one thing that makes Boyd Hill so special. As a remnant of Florida's fast-disappearing natural landscape, it is one of the few places in the city, especially on the south side, where you can easily observe a dozen different animal species (and a few dozen types of plants) in a single outing. What you're seeing is not a zoo — many different species functioning separately in their respective enclosures — but the complex ways in which species live together to form an ecosystem, a living landscape. Thanks to a small army of dedicated employees and volunteers, there are numerous programs at the preserve that allow you to glimpse this natural integrity in action, offering everything from kayak trips to day camps.
Sadly, though, the integrity of this special place is now threatened. Though Taylor Morrison's proposal to construct 115 townhomes at the St. Petersburg Country Club is currently stalled, the larger issue is the increased traffic and noise that even a more modest development would bring to the preserve. This disturbance would imperil not only the vulnerable species that live there, but also our ability to enjoy this quiet and wonder-filled corner of our city. Though the development would help to address the financial problems of the country club — itself an important piece of St. Petersburg history — the sacrifice is too great. We need to protect the integrity of Boyd Hill, a rare and beautiful green space, just as we need safeguard the tremendous educational and recreational opportunities it offers to our public and our visitors. As I was reminded on last night's hike, it takes a diversity of agents and approaches to make an ecosystem work. Surely Boyd Hill, unique among St. Petersburg's public spaces, is an important part of our city's ecosystem.
Amanda Hagood, St. Petersburg
Early-morning school robocalls | Aug. 19
Taxpayer-funded school budgets cover the expense of paying a company based in California to remind parents school is starting and to chat with their kids about school goals? Really? If adults are not aware when school opens after registering they need a lot more help than a phone call. Secondly, it would sure be nice to spend Florida money in Florida whenever possible. Who approved this ridiculous expenditure?
Robyn Dalton, Largo