Sportsplex is just about the profits
Why are certain county commissioners digging a hole for the county that will be very hard to get out of at some point in the future? It amazes me that the county wants to do business with Sportsplex USA when they specifically stated, "The current environment in Pasco County tells me there is no way we could successfully coexist on a long-term basis running a business endeavor as partners." How many ways do the commissioners need to hear this sentiment?
The Times asked the question: Why the turnaround? How about the fact that Commissioner Pat Mulieri told them "she had contacted another consultant, a company connected to baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., and thought the time had come to build a complex before someone else does." Sounds like all of a sudden they want the business before another company gets a chance to get in on the business.
This is now all about Sportsplex USA revenue, and they could care less how Pasco County benefits from the deal. Why should they, with the way they are practically being begged to take our money?
If they couldn't deal with the scrutiny that Commissioner Jack Mariano put forth to protect the county's investment, then what will happen when there is a problem down the road? Based on their public statements and letters, there are sure to be problems.
Commissioner Ted Schrader hit the mark when he said, "I don't know how you could ever go back and heal those wounds." I would add, why would anyone from the county want to when all indicators point to problems ahead? Forget Sportsplex USA and put the project out for new proposals.
Ray Mackin, New Port Richey
Don't rush sports complex decision
I guess the Sportsplex USA people used the $60,000 previously paid to vacation around Florida and couldn't find any work, so they're back begging at Pasco's door. It's amazing how money can mend hurt feelings. Times must be tough all over. It's also interesting that there is now $27 million available for a complex when previous estimates were in the $5 million range.
Before agreeing to any contract with Sportsplex, I would ask the board to investigate how other venues are managed in the long term. A renewable contract every two years seems a better fit than a 10-year or franchise scenario. This is not McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts.
There is also the additional costs of the building and continued maintenance of roads and gates inside Saddlebrook Resort; therefore, I don't think it is wise to make any improvements at the county site until Porter Boulevard is completed. At some point, the county is going to be responsible for the roads. Is the only reason for that particular site to line Saddlebrook's pockets?
Commissioners and the newspapers can bash Commissioner Jack Mariano for his attempts to locate a complex in Hudson, but I agree with him. It is the best place for a large sports venue for all of the reasons above and more. Does the county own property in the Trinity/Odessa area suitable for a large facility to satisfy the earmarked money? If so, why not there? Are there any complications to building in Hudson? Ask questions and stop making silly snap decisions with public money.
It's been 18 years. What's the rush? If the board feels they have money burning a hole in their collective pockets, I suggest they form a committee composed of the existing tourism and economic development councils to investigate further before this becomes more of an embarrassment.
Dana Goodwin, Hudson
Lights needed at Veterans park
Pasco County has done a fine job in building and maintaining wonderful parks for the general public. However, I have concerns regarding darkness when walking the fitness/walking trail in the evenings at Veterans Memorial Park.
I walk almost every evening of the week. These are not late night walks but, during this time of year, it is dark by 6:15 p.m., which is the time I have available to begin my walking routine.
For a park that offers a paved trail along with late park hours, there should be adequate lighting. Without this lighting, walking the trail in the evenings not only is a safety issue, but a possible liability situation for the county if something should happen.
Candy Smith, Hudson
Are strawberries worth the water?
The picture of Interstate 4 was sad and the article that followed was informative and maddening. The strawberry farmers have been watering for a week to save their crops. Last week they misted to keep the ground warm; this week they watered to form ice on the plants to protect them.
Farmers are allowed to pump a certain amount, but if they want more all they have to do is apply for a new permit and it's 100 percent free. They've been watering unabated for a week and the highways are falling into sinkholes. People can't take showers in and around Plant City. One expert says the problem could be caused by freezing temperatures or overpumping.
Most of my neighborhood has brown lawns because the aquifer hasn't recovered from a drought three years ago and we can only water one time a week. If your house was built after the local farms were operating, it's your problem. I wonder if the price of the crop will be equal to the price of the repairs, wasted fuel and time.
Thomas Karcher, New Port Richey
Boys Village will be missed
The San Antonio Boys Village closed its programs in December after 30 years of service to troubled youths. I had been with this organization since 1982 and I learned much on how to counsel youth and families from my colleagues.
There is a need for places such as this for our troubled youths now and in the future. Boys Village imprinted on me the importance of helping our teenagers who need guidance, discipline and motivation to be successful. This was not just a job, but really trying to make a difference in a person's life. I watched some enter the prison system, which was a tragedy.
I worked with many dynamic people at the village and I am a far better person for working with these people. Boys Village made me a better person.
Edward Hetterich, Case Manager, San Antonio