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Letters to the Editor for Aug. 10

Re: Swap of wetlands for fields wins go-ahead story, Aug. 7

Citizens' objections ignored by council

I am truly stunned by the manner in which the Clearwater City Council ignored the objections from environmental groups in the county and voted, unanimously, to change the land use designation for the 7-plus wetland acres that Clearwater Christian College wants to destroy for a ball field. It was a long meeting and lots of people raised their objections and they were ignored. The council members had obviously decided before the meeting how they would vote.

The development plan violates the letter and spirit of the Clearwater comprehensive plan regarding wetlands. Of what use is the comprehensive plan if it can be violated so easily?

The development plan ignored the provisions of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's bald eagle management plan.

The college's mitigation plan has no provisions for revegetating areas of Cooper's Point where Brazilian peppers and other exotic, invasive species will be removed. Without such restoration, they will shortly return.

The culvert reconnecting Old Tampa Bay with Cooper's Bayou will be no more than the widening of some already existing mosquito ditches. This is hardly sufficient mitigation for losing 7 acres of existing, healthy mangrove.

I do not believe the Tampa Bay Environmental Protection Group was even invited to voice its opinion. The proposed development is opposed to all efforts to clean up bay waters.

If this is in fact a done deal, then I am embarrassed. I had always been rather proud of the Clearwater City Council for being receptive to its constituents. I guess I was wrong.

Hopefully, if nothing else, the city will carefully review the mitigation plan, listen to professionals without a preconceived agenda and develop a plan that truly helps the bay. The acres lost cannot ever be recovered.

Jane Williams, Clearwater

Re: Cooper's Point wetlands destruction

Wetlands decision smells of hypocrisy

Doublespeak is alive and well in Clearwater. If a small group of people wants to destroy wetlands, eagle nests and wildlife habitat, all they have to do is say they are "protecting" other habitat. We certainly don't have to deal with truth and reality with this proposed travesty.

Many people have fought long and hard to protect Cooper's Point in the past, but I guess that just doesn't count with these people.

Barbara Hodges, Tarpon Springs

Re: Swap of wetlands for fields wins go-ahead story, Aug. 7

The necessity of Amendment 4

This story shows why we desperately need to pass Amendment 4 in November. It's one more case where a builder parades its paid experts, who say, "Trust us and our Ph.D degrees, this project won't harm the environment." Years later, when the experts turn out to be wrong, the public is left with the mess and the bill.

Amendment 4 has some downsides and is not a perfect solution to the problem of overdevelopment. But without it, we can sit back and watch the state get paved over, because there's not too much we can do about it. The bulldozers are coming soon to a town near you.

Liz Drayer, Clearwater

Re: Homeless, not hopeless story, July 25

Others out there are helping homeless

I read with interest your article about Pinellas Hope. They do great work for the homeless, as you have shown.

There is another organization in Pinellas County that I think is important for St. Petersburg Times readers to know about, and that is the Homeless Emergency Project. Since 1986, HEP has been transforming the lives of homeless individuals and families in Pinellas County.

HEP is recognized as one of the largest, most comprehensive homeless service centers in Pinellas County. It is supported by national, state and local sources, routinely meets its objectives and has a success rate well above the norm.

HEP is a good steward to the community and operates with great fiscal integrity. Also, many volunteers give their time and talent to HEP's mission. The value of this contributed time last year was nearly $1 million!

On any given night, there are 300 individuals residing on the HEP campus in Clearwater, including veterans and women with children. (In fact, approximately one third of HEP residents are veterans.) HEP addresses a variety of issues behind each individual's story of becoming homeless with intensive case management, mental and medical health care, substance abuse treatment, dental care, education, child care, transportation, daily meal service, job skills training and employment assistance.

HEP helps people help themselves, because individuals don't get a hand out; they get a hand up. HEP assists each person on his or her journey toward self-sufficiency.

The stories of how people that have been helped by HEP have given back by volunteering are numerous and heartwarming, especially the children. You really should visit and see what a great organization HEP is.

Judy Mullican, executive director, Leadership Pinellas, Clearwater

>>Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our website at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 10 08/10/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 7:45pm]

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