Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Letters To The Editor

North Pinellas Your Say letters for March 19

The folly of calling Jolly's win a mandate | column by Daniel Ruth, March 12

Waiting for other shoe to drop

Mr. Ruth's downplay of the Jolly victory sounds like "sour grapes" to me. Sink has sunk and Jolly is the choice made by the voters, no matter the math.

The Affordable Care Act, once proudly known as Obamacare, has been amended, by executive privilege, so often that it no longer resembles what Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi once wanted Congress to pass so that we could find out what was in it. The president has, with his trusty pen, provided so many loopholes that the individual mandate is no longer in effect.

Incumbent Democrats are shying away from their leader because of his doomed master plan. I am waiting for the other shoe to fall. The one which will provide a bailout for the insurance companies at taxpayer costs.

Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole

The folly of calling Jolly's win a mandate | column by Daniel Ruth, March 12

Overby votes change the game

Ruth's candidate Alex Sink was supposed to win. Ruth forgets to mention the Libertarian candidate, Lucas Overby, who received almost 9,000 votes. He was in the race to draw off Republican votes. The Democrats wanted to ensure their candidate won.

Add the two vote totals together and we have a mandate. The liberals will try their best spin to convince the voters Jolly had no mandate, but facts don't lie.

The writer is firmly convinced the Democrats convinced the Libertarian candidate to run, possibly financing some or all of his campaign.

Robert Noonan, Clearwater

Stop a disaster in the making

Thank you Republican voters! Our county and nation could not afford another Democrat making any social decisions and costing taxpayers more of their hard-earned money.

I'm sure most thinking and alert voters realize just what a disaster the administration has made of our country. We are rapidly becoming a third-world nation.

Ronald G. Payne, Safety Harbor

Sponge Docks and Glocks, Daniel Ruth column, March 9

Gun range brings jobs, not crime

Mr. Ruth's article about the new gun range planned for Tarpon Springs fails to mention that this once-abandoned piece of property will now be home to a state-of-the-art gun range that will produce construction jobs, range jobs, property tax revenue and sales tax revenue.

Furthermore, people traveling from all over the bay area and Southeast might actually spend some time in Tarpon Springs, boosting its tourism revenue.

What Mr. Ruth does not want to realize is that for all of his antigun rhetoric, gun crimes are at an all-time low and there is no evidence whatsoever that putting a gun range in the area increases gun violence.

John Bowman, Tampa

Valspar PGA tournament, Innisbrook resort

Price gouging at Innisbrook

This past week my 14-year-old grandson was visiting and he expressed an interest in attending the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. I read in the Tampa Bay Times that the pro-Am on Wednesday was free admission, so we decided to attend and see if my grandson would enjoy it.

When we arrived at the entrance, I was informed that admission was $10! My grandson really enjoyed the tournament so we also attended Thursday and Friday.

I was very disappointed with the price gouging, starting with $10 to park, $4 for a bottle of water, $6 for a beer and $5 for a bagel. I attended the Masters at Augusta a few years ago and I remember buying a Coke and a sandwich for about $3.50.

I don't know who sets the prices for the food — the PGA or Innisbrook — but I think it conveys a very poor image to the public attending the tournament.

The tickets listed the items that could not be taken into Innisbrook and it was obvious these restrictions had nothing to do with security but were designed to prevent food or drinks being brought to the tournament so that attendees would have to buy these item from the vendors.

The price gouging left a very bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended) and I now view Innisbrook in a very negative light. Instead of showcasing their property, Innisbrook opted instead to force attendees to buy food and drinks at inflated prices.

Luke A. Halley, Tarpon Springs

Belleair residents don't want towers

This letter is intended to convey some observations regarding recent events in the process of determining the fate of the property now occupied by the Belleview Biltmore hotel.

The controversial RM10 proposal that was introduced for consideration by the Belleair Town Commission a few weeks ago was offered originally to protect the town from being overbuilt. (It would limit residential construction to 10 units per acre.)

However, potential developers of the hotel property seized upon the height provision in RM10 as the necessary authority to build 80-foot-tall condominium buildings — 40 feet above the tree canopy — to provide a view of the water and justify the high-end prices required to make the project profitable.

The developer who currently has an option to buy the Biltmore property confirmed, following a recent Town Commission meeting, that he intended to build to the 80-foot height.

So, in the end, the choice for the town is relatively simple: a restored hotel or twin towers (to accommodate about 130 condominiums) reaching at least 40 feet above the tree line, shattering forever the park-like atmosphere of the Residential Planned Development.

The addition of another 160 housing units — the developer plans to build approximately 130 condominiums and 32 townhouses — can only further depress property values in Belleair, certainly in the RPD, and probably in the rest of the town through a domino effect.

As the town's population ages, residents will look for opportunities to downsize in the new development, vacating single-family homes and creating another downward pressure on residential property prices. Adding more residential units to an already depressed market can only have a negative impact on real property values.

With a fully restored hotel, no one gets hurt and the park-like atmosphere of the RPD would remain intact. The Belleair Country Club wants more parking and covets 2.3 acres of the Biltmore property for that purpose. That would require commission action to reduce the minimum size of the hotel property to 17.5 acres, thus enabling the current owners to sell the 2.3 acres to the club. Without those 2.3 acres, any hope of preserving and restoring the hotel could come to an end.

There is a better solution.

For less money than the rumored purchase price of the coveted parcel, a deck could be built over the club's current parking area, doubling its capacity. I would also imagine the town could persuade a new owner, committed to restoring the hotel, to help the club build that deck.

The country club has been a good citizen, is well-managed and is an asset to the community, but its membership, a large portion of which is made up of non-Belleair residents, should not dictate town policy.

Regarding the current condition of the hotel, none of us should be considered blameless. As residents and taxpayers, we should have been more insistent that the town aggressively enforce the specific requirement of the town's Comprehensive Plan: "...to preserve the Belleview Biltmore Hotel." As our elected representatives, commission members should have been more mindful of that obligation.

In any event, our combined neglect and the present condition of the hotel should not be used as an excuse to avoid the town's duty to preserve the hotel. That obligation is undiminished and ongoing.

In the last month, I have knocked on the doors or rung the doorbells of close to 300 Belleair residences and spoken with more than 100 residents. Only two openly opposed the restoration of the hotel. Some made no definitive comment, but a clear majority expressed their support for restoring the Biltmore.

I have not heard a single resident of Belleair express a preference for two high-rise condominium towers stretching well above the tree line on the highest point in the town, over a restored, historic Belleview Biltmore Hotel.

Jim Betts, Belleair

Comments

Thursday’s letters: A surgeon responds to story about a needle being left in a baby’s heart

All Children’s surgeon left a needle in a baby’s heart | April 22My view as one of the surgeonsI am one of the physicians discussed (but not interviewed) in this article. Whatever the motive for such an article, I disagree with many of the claims...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Wednesday’s letters: How we plan to improve foster care in Hillsborough

Improving foster care inHillsborough | April 19, editorialOur plans for helping kidsThis editorial poses many good questions. The Department of Children and Families’ peer review report is expected to be released soon. And while we welcome the an...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for April 27

Stop Ridge Road extension, reader saysWhen I spoke at the Dade City meeting of the Pasco County Commissioners on my opposition to the Ridge Road Extension, three of them responded, but only when my three minutes of free speech expired, and I could sa...
Published: 04/23/18

Monday’s letters: Term limits don’t work

U.S. Senate campaignTerm limitsdon’t workGov. Rick Scott has begun his run for the U.S. Senate with TV ads promoting term limits for representatives and senators. Aside from the probability that this would require a constitutional amendment, I think ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18

Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Tuesday’s letters: Student journalists push to save their newsrooms and independence

Save student newsroomsAs professional newsrooms shrink, student newsrooms have become an increasingly important source of local coverage, holding not only our universities accountable but also local government. We write these articles, attending meet...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18

Wednesday’s letters:

Poverty and plenty in bay area | April 7, editorialStruggling poor are not a priorityI commend your newspaper for continuing to produce real and relevant news, particularly the recent editorial pointing out that a prospering Tampa Bay should not ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18