The St. Petersburg Pier
Roll revamped Pier, new stadium into one
The City Council of St. Petersburg is planning to meet in May to discuss how to spend $50-million for renovations and improvements to the Pier, in hopes of improving attendance, and a return to profitability. According to City Council Chairman Jamie Bennett, the project could result in "an entire revamping of what the Pier is."
By any chance, has anyone mentioned to the council that there is a Major League Baseball franchise down the street looking for waterfront property to build a new stadium? Is it remotely possible that these two interests might come together for the greater good?
Maybe it's just me, but the idea of a Pier, a boardwalk and a Major League Baseball park all wrapped up in one sounds like a winner to me.
Peter Motzenbecker, St. Petersburg
Grand Prix parking
City's thanks: ticket
Each spring for the past four years, my family and I have made the 1,000-mile round-trip journey from northwest Florida to attend the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in your beautiful city.
With event tickets, hotel, meals, and other miscellaneous expenses, I estimate that we contribute nearly $1,000 annually to your local economy (and that's not even including the cost of fuel to get there).
This year, your city's finest thanked me for my patronage by presenting me with a $17.50 parking ticket on the day of the race.
I parked at a meter on Sixth Avenue and deposited the maximum $3. I knew that we wouldn't be back before the time expired, but I thought that surely the city wouldn't be shortsighted enough to ticket the whole block full of cars that were doing the same thing for this special event.
I was, of course, wrong about that, and I imagine that the two dozen or more other fans that made the same mistake are as disgruntled as I am.
Hopefully, my feelings will change before next spring, but just to be safe, you'd better invest my $17.50 wisely. If I decide not to come back, it may have to earn a return of $1,000 per year indefinitely to make up the difference.
Alan Hummel, Pace
Parks vital for youth
Our park systems, whether local, state or federal, are now facing unprecedented challenges in maintaining adequate funding for maintenance and staffing needs.
The reasons for the challenges that we now face are many, but the need for quality recreational experiences still remains for the strength of our families and communities.
My grandparents moved to Pinellas County in 1957, retiring here from Indiana. My family soon followed after visiting them in the land of sun and fun.
My earliest memory at one of our parks was when my family visited Fort De Soto Park. I'll never forget those family outings to the beach or riding the miniature train that was by the old fort. We eventually moved to a house beside Taylor Park in Largo. When I wasn't in school, I spent many an hour there playing on the ballfield or the playground with my friends.
I was very fortunate to be able to enjoy a career in the Pinellas County Parks Department.
Having come to the park system from another county department, I found my calling after starting at Fort De Soto. Eventually, I became the assistant supervisor at Taylor Park, the place that had been so dear to me as a child, before becoming the supervisor of Sand Key Park.
Over the years I've spent in parks, I have seen so many families, civic and church groups and kids in summer day camp programs enjoying our parks, building an outdoor recreation habit as well as good memories for those families and kids.
As we are heading into uncertain economic times, one thing I am certain about is that recreation in the great outdoors is more important than ever. During economic downturns, our park systems are the first to experience cuts, as they are not considered essential services.
The fallacy of that thinking to me is that children who do not have something to do, such as our recreation programs, or a place to do them, will often find other activities to fill their free time that can have detrimental effects to themselves and their communities.
I have had firsthand experience working with troubled youth over the years and have seen the pattern of the slide into the wrong crowd and the devastating consequences repeated over and over again.
Our parks and recreation departments are staffed with trained professionals who can teach them habits of sportsmanship and civic pride that can last them a lifetime.
Let's all make sure that our government leaders at all levels know how important parks are to you and our communities.
Fred Bruder, Palm Harbor
Field trips, raises on list of school cuts | April 17, story
Field trips too pricey
On our visit to Fort De Soto Park on April 16, we observed many young teenagers coming and going in one of the pavilions. There were at least four large tour buses that consecutively unloaded the passengers, who would go to the pavilion, listen to a lecture from a "teacher" with easel illustrations, and then go back to the bus. As we left, we asked the kids what school they were from. The answer came back: "Miami!"
This puzzled mind says if this is true, then, yes, let's cut back on funding for such extensive "field trips."
Blair Libby, Gulfport
For retired greyhounds, poker run's the jackpot | April 20, story
Next year's Big Dogs
Thank you for the great article about our fundraiser event for the Greyhound Pets of America Tampa Bay Chapter, the "Greyhound Retirement Specialists."
Please keep us in mind for our Run with the Big Dogs, which will be held on Sunday, April 19, 2009
Val and Don Koppin, GPA volunteers, Gulfport