Don't kill park's
Many flowers and shrubs here enhance our beautiful state, which would otherwise be scrubland. The Cayman Islands would be nothing without the Australian pines, and they flourish throughout the Caribbean, giving welcome shade and helping to absorb carbon dioxide.
Florida is full of exotic species, which give the land color and beauty. Not all exotics are bad.
It seems these beautiful trees with their feathery leaves are destined to be eradicated from Shell Key by 2012, and nearby Fort De Soto is rapidly losing these wonderful shade trees, leaving us with no protection from the sun near the shore (and very little elsewhere in the park).
Fort De Soto Park was voted the No. 1 beach in the country in 2005 by Dr. Stephen Leatherman and won the honor from a travel group this year.
But with the current policy I suspect there will only be an outcry when the pines at the north end of the park are killed, leaving the most popular destination for beachgoers in the park without shade.
By then it will be too late.
After growing peacefully and shading us so nicely for more than 100 years, we are going to cut them down needlessly. See the Friends of the Pines Web site to learn the facts and regulatory laws about these trees: www.australianpines.org/facts.cfm.
Over the past 10 years Australian pines have slowly been ringed with a chain saw in the park and left to sit for years looking bare and unsightly until the elements eventually felled them.
Parts of the park are looking quite ghoulish, and it appears from the following document that we are doomed to lose them all.
This document pertains to neighboring Shell Key, but the eradication of the pines in Fort De Soto Park is keeping pace with Shell Key: www.pinellascounty.org/scienceforum/pdf/ESF_August_16_07_recomm.pdf.
I wonder if Fort De Soto Park will retain its No. 1 rating when Pinellas County is through?
How about all the additional cases of melanoma that will result?
Christopher Davies, Tierra Verde
What about sailing?
In all the talk of the proposed new Rays stadium, I have seen little mention of the major effect it will have on a premier city institution, the St. Petersburg Sailing Center.
The filling-in of a portion of the west channel access for sailboats will create difficulties. The stadium and its sail-like roof will completely block the wind from the west and southwest. Obviously, sailboats need wind to move.
This center, over the years, has trained thousands of the youth of St. Petersburg in the skills needed to sail. Each year many hundreds, if not thousands, of young people participate in these programs. Visitors participating in sailing regattas arrive nearly every week during the fall, winter and spring, adding many thousands to our guest population as well as considerable revenue.
If you study the old photo that was used for the stadium rendering, you will see that it does not show the investment of several hundred thousand dollars in new docks to improve the facility just a few years ago.
Robert Lischer, St. Petersburg
Arts center idea falters
March 9, story
Facelift fell short
Wow, a $20-million facelift renovating the Mahaffey Theater: an extended colonnade facing a grassy expanse, dramatic raised ceilings, a 40-foot glass arc showcasing the waterfront. Sounds fantastic!
However, I don't purchase a ticket and pay to park to see this "grand destination." My destination is my seat so I can enjoy the program. And the seats evidently were not renovated.
Heaven forbid we make the patrons comfortable. Squeeze in another row of seats; the patrons don't mind being squeezed into a small seat with no leg room for two or three hours. And I won't even mention the late patrons trying to climb over me to get to their seats!
The facelift left much to be desired. And to think the Rays' new waterfront stadium will complement the Mahaffey & please.
This idea needs to be trashed. We gave them a stadium; now they better work on giving us a team. Leave our waterfront alone.
M.J. Hukalowicz, South Pasadena
Pace toll increases
The Florida Department of Transportation has no clue regarding unintended consequences.
During this time of real estate depression, the DOT wants to strike a heavy-handed blow to the values of all properties that depend on the Bayway for access. Paying tolls to get home to Tierra Verde, Bayway Isles, Vina del Mar, etc., is painful enough, but this degree of increase will diminish the interest of many potential buyers and renters.
The fact the DOT was negligent in avoiding raising tolls gently since 1962 is no reason to correct the imbalance so abruptly. A 50-cent increase is a more reasonable move. Then they can re-evaluate.
Scott K. Wagman, St. Petersburg
Cell phone morons | March 9, letter
Regulate cell phones
I have been in only one auto accident since I have been driving. I was driving back to my apartment, and in my apartment complex, a lady backed out of her parking space while talking on a cell phone. I did not see her until it was all over.
Her rear bumper caught under my car's front fender and ripped up the entire passenger side of my brand-new sports car from front to rear. She was still on the cell phone when she got out of her car.
The cost: $3,190.35 — plus 11 days of inconvenience and driving a rental car. Her insurance company paid for everything, but my insurance rates went up. The letter writer was right on the money when he said Florida needs stricter cell phone regulations.
Joseph Welch, St. Petersburg