Monday, February 19, 2018
Letters To The Editor

North Pinellas letters: Listen up, Belleview Biltmore preservationists

It's too late to save Biltmore hotel

This is an open letter to Belleview Biltmore preservationists.

Opinions are like noses, we all have one. However, to vehemently espouse preserving the hotel without the facts is divisive and causing our town of Belleair to choose sides.

You have lost sight of the fact that the town does not own the hotel — it is a private enterprise and not part of the town's Parks and Recreation Department. Your anger and frustration are misdirected. Rather than chide the Town Commission, you should be chiding Kawa Capital Management, architect Richard Heisenbottle, R.C. Johnson and D. Hein (president of Save the Biltmore Preservationists). They have been dangling the carrot in front of you and twisting the facts.

Some of you have suggested the commissioners insist the present owners sell only to those who will restore the hotel. Can you imagine telling you who you can market your home to? Have you never heard of private property rights?

Some are jumping the gun and drawing conclusions without knowing the facts, i.e. "Cheezem's cheesy cookie cutter condo clusters." If you would wait, like you're asking us to wait, you'd hear Mike Cheezem's plan rather than using your clever alliteration, which is counterproductive. We have waited patiently for five years for Heisenbottle to close the deal. How much longer can we wait?

We have heard you — many from out of town — pound on the podium, calling the hotel the heart and soul of Belleair. If that be the case, the town should be dead, as the hotel has been shuttered since January 2009. Your untruths and inaccuracies coupled with baseless accusations border on slander.

Here's a partial list of your preposterous, inaccurate statements: shovel-ready project scheduled to start January of 2013; economic feasibility has been validated by financers who will fund it; there are legitimate groups making offers to buy and restore; give Heisenbottle more time, there are more buyers in the wings; construction of townhomes and condos would almost certainly decrease the property values of existing condos; the hotel is in good condition and can be restored.

As late as February, Heisenbottle said, "I have a solid commitment, we're very close to a deal." These investors with the funds are as illusive as Ms Hein. I've asked numerous people, including reporters, if they've ever set eyes on this woman who has a propensity for stirring up the pot with misleading statements. They all deny having met her.

Not so for Ms. R.C. Johnson, who is a regular at town meetings with her charts and documents. Johnson continues to question the credentials of our town attorney and our city planner. I ask, where are her credentials and those of her minions who shout, accuse and disrupt, insisting the hotel can be restored? You are waiting for a miracle that is not coming, grasping at straws, and dreaming of preservation that is too expensive to come true.

Commissioner Stephen Fowler, an avowed preservationist, said, "I'm saying slow down, with the economy recovering, I'm firmly convinced that it's doable." This from a man who admits to not being a money kind of guy.

You have been comparing the Belleview Biltmore to the Don CeSar and the Vinoy, which is like comparing a funeral to a wedding — the Don being on the beach and the Vinoy being in the heart of a vibrant city on the waterfront.

Maybe plans to renovate the hotel were too complicated and grandiose. There was never a Plan B suggested. We now have one being presented by Mike Cheezem, which entails a mixed-use approach. Let's listen to his plan and listen with our heads and not our hearts.

It appears that common sense may be prevailing and preserving the hotel may no longer be a viable option. So please step away from the podium, cease and desist writing vitriolic accusatory letters and emails, and let capitalism work.

Lil Cromer, Belleair

Citizens need a say on gun range

Tarpon Springs has long been a tourist destination — quaint shops and good dining, weeping icons and the historic diving for the cross at Spring Bayou, good families deeply rooted in culture and community, theater and art, and now, if city planners have their way, a state-of-the-art gun range.

What do the residents of Tarpon Springs think about their city being the destination stop for gun enthusiasts? Seems no one asked the residents of Tarpon Springs or surrounding communities their opinion of a state-of-the-art gun range — in their community — as a destination stop for gun enthusiasts and gun sales.

But I am sure the city planners know what is best for the citizens.

Peno Hardesty, New Port Richey

Ill. visitor facing animal cruelty charge story, March 21

It could have been worse for visitor

Let me get this straight. An out of town visitor was arrested, jailed and released on a $5,000 bond because he struck a seagull with his umbrella.

He should consider himself lucky, because if one of our armed citizens had witnessed this horrible crime, he most likely would have been sent back to Illinois in a body bag.

John Waitman, Palm Harbor


Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Feb. 16

A vote against Pasco’s jail bond issueThere are two stories on the front page of the Feb. 9 Pasco Times that drew my attention.The top headline reports that the Pasco County commissioners are discussing submitting a $185 million bond issue to the vot...
Published: 02/13/18

Tuesday’s letters: Challenges in Hillsborough foster care

Foster failures under scrutiny | Feb. 10Challenges in foster care systemNo young person deserves to be treated as shown in the Ch. 8 segment on Youth and Family Alternatives Inc., an Eckerd Connects subcontractor. It is difficult to fathom how th...
Published: 02/12/18

Saturday’s letters: We’re all just trying to get home, one zip tie at a time

I detest Trump, but a ‘redneck’ fixed my Prius with zip ties | Feb. 3, Ruth Mayer columnWe’re all just trying to get homeLike columnist Ruth Mayer, I too am trying to find my level ground, my level-set. I too have held a tremendously deep resentm...
Published: 02/07/18
Updated: 02/09/18

Sunday’s letters: Let’s make America good again

Everyone loves a parade | Feb. 9, editorialI’ll sit on the sidelinesAs a 30-year veteran I was appalled at the president’s plan for a military parade. Having marched in numerous parades in my career I can say without hesitation that members of th...
Published: 02/07/18
Updated: 02/09/18