Cuts to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
Removing rangers is shortsighted
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is one of the most beautiful and pristine city parks in St. Petersburg. As a volunteer, I see all sorts of people visiting the park: retirees, families, tourists from around the world, students working on community service projects, and volunteers like me who have grown to love the park. It is a park bustling with activity!
The recent cuts of all five full-time ranger positions is devastating. It is a shortsighted move by the city and will bring with it the loss of experience and knowledge that cannot be replaced with part-time staff. Many of the rangers have 15-plus years of experience working at the preserve and have created numerous programs to educate the public. The expertise of the rangers helps to ensure that the preserve is being managed responsibly so future generations can enjoy the park.
I hope St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster will be willing to hear the many voices that are calling for an adjustment to these cuts in order to preserve the integrity of the nature preserve and the superb educational programs offered by these expert rangers.
Andrea Andersen, St. Petersburg
Boyd Hill Preserve
Keep rangers; cut Grand Prix instead
I hope our city officials will read this letter, and the hundreds more like it that they are probably receiving, written in shock at the idea of the draconian decision to cut the full-time ranger staff at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. The preserve is the green space so necessary to people living in a city, as necessary to us as Central Park is to New Yorkers.
The preserve is more than just the land it occupies. The preserve is a place of rejuvenation for me and for hundreds of other residents and tourists. This jewel-like property, so close and accessible to all St. Petersburg residents, creates a calm refuge for all who visit. It is a civilizing influence to people who in their day-to-day lives become stressed out.
On my weekly walks there, not only do I rejuvenate myself physically, mentally, and spiritually, but each time I walk the familiar trails, I come back with a question about a plant or tree or animal that can only be answered by a ranger, someone who knows intimately the flora and fauna of the preserve and the changes that the seasons and other natural cycles bring to the ecosystems there.
The preserve is a place I've taken my son since before he was born — when there was still a zoo on the property. He's 37 now, and we take his two children there when he and his family come to visit. Not only has he walked the trails and played on the playground as a child, but he attended ranger-led summer camps at Boyd Hill as well. Together we've planted pine trees there guided by the rangers. When I was a schoolteacher, I brought countless classes there for ranger-guided tours. And how many people would have the opportunity to visit the woods at night without a knowledgeable ranger as a guide on the regularly scheduled night hikes?
City officials should examine other places to cut funds, rather than cutting the necessary stewards of this place, which has so many long-range benefits to the residents of St. Petersburg — some which cannot be evaluated by short-term measures.
(What about the Grand Prix? The city has to turn itself inside-out for that race that lasts one weekend. It creates havoc and noise for the people who live nearby and regularly use the streets that are blocked off for a month because of the race. And that's not to mention that it spews more noxious exhaust into the air we breathe. Cut funds for that, if city funds need to be cut.)
Ann Simas Schoenacher, St. Petersburg
Short-term gains vs. long-term losses | Feb. 7, letters
Parks are a refuge in sea of concrete
I, too, am very unhappy about the cutback on care of the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. It has taken years to get our parks into beautiful shape; to let them go downhill would surely be a sad occasion.
Why not put a hold on the new plantings around the city, no new sculptures in the parks or paintings on the buildings so we can keep these parks up to par? They are used by so many of us and are a great relief from all the stores and concrete parking areas. We need to keep ourselves "green" with some of the good old Florida still around.
Ruth Angeli, St. Petersburg
Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary
Officials had better take care of birds
The town commissioners of Redington Shores are setting a terrible example for the community and future generations.
Their rejection of the variance site plan requested by the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is a statement of greed. They want more condos so they can get more tax money.
They should be ashamed to deny the sanctuary this request. The sanctuary has always been a wonderful neighbor, and many visitors know of Redington Shores because of the Seabird Sanctuary. People develop a good image of Redington Shores because of it.
I urge the commissioners to re-visit their vote. Many of us in the community are willing to organize to make sure that the tragedy brought about by this vote does not become a reality.
If it does, we are willing to work against those commissioners who voted against the sanctuary to make sure that they never again represent this community
J. Martinez, Redington Shores
Cruises, gambling are the answer
Well its about time someone with intelligence has responded with a perfect solution to the Pier's future. A port for cruises would be great for all of St. Petersburg, and so would gambling. There's plenty of parking and great scenery. What else do we need?
Lena Pendola, St. Petersburg
High schoolers may have some ideas
I think it would be a great idea to ask high school juniors and seniors what ideas they might have for the downtown Pier. These kids are smart, and it would be good to hear what they might come up with.
Audrey Mitchell, Seminole