Moving library not worth savings
I urge the Clearwater City Council to keep the North Greenwood Library open in its current location. The North Greenwood branch library is a valuable asset to our community.
With the present economic climate, maintaining city services at pre-recession levels is very challenging. The cuts made to the budget this year, along with the proposed cuts for next year, are deep and affect all citizens of Clearwater, some more than others.
In previous years, when property values and taxes were at high levels, city revenues were set aside specifically for a rainy day. Is this not a time to use some of those funds to maintain the quality of life for the citizens of North Greenwood?
As noted in previous council meetings, the savings of relocating the North Greenwood branch to the recreation center across the street is $120,000; the estimated cost of the relocation is $100,000; add to that the approximate costs of maintaining the unoccupied library building. Current electric bills for the building average more than $2,000 per month, $24,000 per year. Half of that, $12,000, would be a conservative estimate for maintaining the vacated building. That leaves a total savings of $8,000 for the 2010 budget.
In my opinion, the message sent to the community by closing the current North Greenwood Library is not worth an estimated $8,000 savings.
I implore the City Council to find some "rainy day" funds to keep the North Greenwood branch open in its current location. Doing so will speak volumes to the high esteem in which they, our city officials, hold the values of family, education and quality of life for all of our citizens.
Judy Melges, Clearwater
Bridge could be good light rail site
The Hillsborough and Pinellas county commissions are presently seeking stimulus funds to restore the Friendship Trail Bridge, and yet the justifications being cited for doing so, in my view, are inadequate. It now appeals to bike riders, walkers and pet exercisers — a seemingly small sector of the public — and is likely confined to those with such interests who live close to the bridge.
In the long term, this bridge site could be a very practical one for a light rail line between the two counties. If only the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority were further along, we could find reasons for bridge reconstruction that would be useful to a much broader public sector.
John Wacker, Clearwater
Re: No fault of their own story, Aug. 1
Tenants have plenty of rights
The plight of the Noakes family, as tenants of a landlord who is now in foreclosure, is frighteningly common among renters in Pinellas County due to the national foreclosure crisis. Unfortunately, most tenants are unaware of a new federal law that protects their rights if they are renting a property that goes into foreclosure.
The "Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009," Public Law No. 111-22 Sections 701‑704, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on May 20 and gives the following rights to tenants in all pending and future residential foreclosures:
(1) The terms of all existing written leases must be honored by any new owner, including a bank or other purchaser, that acquires residential property at a foreclosure sale. The tenant(s) can therefore remain in the property for the time remaining in the lease term, with one exception: If the new owner wants to live in the property, the new owner may terminate the tenancy with 90 days' written notice.
(2) If a tenant is renting without a current written lease, the new owner must provide the tenant with a minimum 90-day written notice before terminating the tenancy.
(3) If the tenant is a recipient of a Section 8 voucher, the new owner must honor the Section 8 lease and the Section 8 contract, unless the new owner wants to live in the property and has provided the tenant with 90 days' written notice of termination.
The law is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. Tenants, therefore, should not vacate residential property they are renting that is the subject of a foreclosure action unless the new owner complies with the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act.
Florida Legal Services Inc. has provided a letter to all county and circuit courts in Florida that ensures that court personnel are aware of the additional protections afforded to tenants under the act. Tenants in Pinellas County who are renting property that is in foreclosure and feel they need further information may contact Gulfcoast Legal Services.
Christine L. Allamanno, Affordable Housing Project attorney, Gulfcoast Legal Services of Tampa Bay Inc., St. Petersburg