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Our parks need to be protected

Re: Ignoring parks will cost us | Diane Steinle column, May 30

Our parks need to be protected

It was sad, but also hopeful, to read your opinion piece. Sad, because already the effects of reduced revenues are being seen in some of the area's most beautiful parks and preserves; hopeful, because your article has the potential to energize elected officials, citizen activists and caring parents who understand the tremendous benefits provided by our public park systems.

Parks are an investment and governments are indeed the stewards of that investment. The investment cities and counties make in parks is returned tenfold in increased property values, enhanced sense of community, improved health (both physical and mental) and reduced negative environmental impacts. There are many things the private sector does very well, but parks are one of the best examples of where the public sector excels. So the importance of building on that strength makes sense.

The city of Largo leaders have made a commitment to providing first-class parks and recreation amenities for their citizenry. These precious spaces will provide the place in our community where crowds become neighbors, where children can explore their place in the natural world, where seniors can enjoy a concert or a leisurely stroll away from the sounds of rushing cars and where families can share quiet time away from electronic distractions — and they will do all of this, not just today, but for many years to come if these parks are protected.

In a densely populated county like Pinellas, what could be more important to sustaining quality of life than protecting our parks? Several months ago a Ken Burns documentary on the national park system eloquently showed the vision and foresight of those who fought to preserve some of the most beautiful land in America. We need leaders now who are willing to step forward and be the John Muirs of Pinellas County so that our children and grandchildren will have trees to climb, streams to explore, shade to frolic in and critters to share the planet with.

The Florida Recreation and Parks Association has a campaign whose slogan is "It starts in parks" — a sense of community, respect for nature, good health, conservation of our natural treasures, ties to our heritage, youth achievement, economic development, Florida's future. Let's all work together to make sure Pinellas County public parks can continue to offer these valuable opportunities.

Joan M. Byrne, director, City of Largo Recreation, Parks and Arts

Re: Construction on Fourth Street SW in Largo

Road project is taking too long

I come from the Northeast, and there, the reconstruction of a road such as what's going on at Fourth Street SW would have been done months ago. The speed of these workers just astounds me. The amount of time with nothing going on also makes my blood pressure go up.

The people who work at the school district headquarters must be as tired of the inconvenience as I am. My street has been blocked off for about a year. This is an unnecessary inconvenience to all who are affected by this road work.

My street is at the beginning of the construction area and they are working their way down to Eighth Avenue. A year, and still at the top of the construction zone? Please!

I think the people doing this construction are milking the people of Largo. I don't know how their contract was worded, but it obviously benefits them to take as long as they can on this project. I'm tired of the inconvenience. I'm tired of seeing my tax dollars being wasted on slow workers. Get this job done! I'm over it!

Susan Bennett, Largo

Litter a problem on local beaches

I'd like to pose a question to all of your readers: Why don't we take care of our oceans?

Yes, as we know, there has been a terrible oil spill and everyone's upset. And they should be. But what about the trash we throw out into the ocean every day? That is a disaster, too, and yet people don't consider it one.

But why? Litter is a big problem. Animals eat it, choke on it, or suffer from starvation because of a feeling of being full. Trash in our oceans also hurts the fishing industry and pollutes recreational areas. These are problems that could be prevented.

I am doing an ocean community service project in my third-grade class at Leila G. Davis Elementary, so last weekend my friend, my brother and I, and our fathers went out in a boat in Tampa Bay to the coastline across from Philippe Park and picked up more than three large garbage bags of trash in less than two hours. We need more people to participate in ocean clean-up projects and to help spread the awareness of how harmful trash is to our oceans.

We also really want everybody to hear about World Oceans Day on June 8. This is a day to go out and celebrate and help our oceans.

Kayla Maue (age 8), Clearwater

Cigarettes don't belong on beaches

Congratulations to the two Florida beaches that made Dr. Beach's Top 10 this year. Maybe some others would have a chance if smokers weren't turning the sand into a giant ashtray. Why don't the local beach communities join forces on a "Keep Your Butts Off Our Beaches" awareness campaign like Hawaii, California and other coastal states?

In addition to being yucky and filthy to look at, step on or float by, cigarette butts can cause long-lasting damage to the marine environment. They contain cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that can take up to 25 years to decompose, as well as more than 165 chemicals, including cadmium, lead and arsenic. When they end up in the water, they can be harmful to marine life.

The Gulf of Mexico has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world — at least for now. Why do we let smokers trash them?

Kathleen Jamison, Largo

Re: Schools need $26M in cuts | story, May 7

Education not a priority for state

Did anyone hear of any serious discussion in our Florida Legislature about eliminating billions in sales tax exemptions? No. This clearly indicates that the members of our Republican-led Legislature are more interested in lining their pockets with special interest money than educating our children.

Charles Muller, Largo

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Our parks need to be protected 06/05/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 5, 2010 12:12pm]
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