We should avoid cutting park funds
I am hopeful that this letter will encourage Chairman Robert B. Stewart and the other Pinellas County commissioners to reconsider the proposed, severe cut to the Parks Department budget.
We all realize that the governor's mandate to cut real estate taxes has had a negative impact on communities. When citizens are not informed in advance of the effects such cuts will have on their everyday lives, the governor sounds like a hero.
My partner and I moved here to Pinellas County part time three years ago. Two years ago, we moved to Dunedin and became homesteaded Florida residents. We moved here from Delaware, where there is no state sales tax, minimal real estate tax and a low income tax. There are, however, no services. We paid for everything, including trash collection, and there are no parks except for the beaches — some of which have an entry fee. You get, as they say, what you pay for.
Two of the main reasons we moved to Florida — specifically Pinellas County — were the weather and the incomparable parks. We spend much of our time in Wall Springs and Anderson parks. Unlike Delaware, we saw that parks and protected open space were treasures never taken for granted by Florida residents and officials. The proposed cuts would threaten these treasures.
Although it is not commonly known, the Pinellas County parks system has a problem with graffiti. Since the employees are so vigilant at cleaning up, we don't have to see mural paintings in the restrooms and graffiti on picnic tables.
Another part of the plan, I understand, is to allow the parks to revert from landscaped to a preserve-type maintenance level. Strip-mowing on either side of the sidewalks does not allow space for playing, walking and freedom of movement.
An issue related to landscaping is the control of invasive species. Because of the information the parks provide, we are all more aware of the risk of invaders to our Florida ecosystem. With a much reduced level of care at the parks, these species surely would take over.
One of the things we noticed when we first began coming here was the quality of construction and maintenance of the park structures. Part of that is mandated by the need for strength to withstand storms. But it is also simple things such as the staining of the wood and the fact that the shelter tables are always painted and in good condition. That comes with work.
Another issue is reduction or elimination of ranger staff. The frequent appearance of rangers encourages people to keep dogs on a lead and lets us know subtly that even if we are there alone, we are not alone.
What a loss these proposed reductions would cause. I urge the commissioners to find a means to spread the reductions with greater awareness of long-term consequences.
Francine R. Bradshaw, Dunedin
Stop dock project
Snell Isle Club Apartments is trying to build 65 dock spaces along the seawall at Eden Isle Apartments. Having slips or docks along that particular seawall would seriously impede water traffic from the surrounding areas and create a significant safety hazard to everyone who lives in or accesses the waters of Smacks and Placido bayous.
Additionally, the environmental impact would be extreme. After years of abuse, the waters where I have lived for 40 years are finally beginning to return to the way they used to be: clean, with manatees and dolphins in the canals, and sand on the bottom instead of a black goo. Having 60-plus boats constantly in the water, many leaking diesel fuel, would have a detrimental impact on the bayous and waters in the local area.
I implore you to think about all the residents of this part of St. Petersburg, animal and human, and not allow this project to go forward.
Charlie Crisp, St. Petersburg
Thanks for race
Yea, St. Pete! Thanks to all concerned in planning and staging the Grand Prix race. It was well-executed, from bus service to traffic control, in spite of the Sunday rain. All added up to a fun weekend. Congratulations, St. Pete. I'm looking to 2009 and more Grand Prix racing.
C. LeClair, St. Petersburg
Thanks for support
As a team member for Brian Stewart Racing in the Indy Lights Series and a resident of St. Petersburg, I just want to say how proud I am of our community's support of our race, which next to the Indy 500, has become the second largest spectator event on the schedule. The fans we meet while racing in St. Petersburg are well-informed, inquisitive and genuinely interested in what is going on. I know all the teams appreciate the opportunity to compete in front of a full house and thank you all for coming.
While a minority may find the event inconvenient or disruptive, I think it is another great reason to live in our thriving city. Many of our racing brethren from other areas of the United States and abroad are quite jealous of our position here.
As for the idea that this race may foster illegal street racing, I disagree. Racetrack owners and promoters for more than 50 years have stressed that the racetrack was the only appropriate place to race a car or motorcycle. Proper law enforcement, education about the consequences and access to constructive participation in organized racing are the only ways to prevent illegal street racing.
Bill Icely, St. Petersburg
On March 31, I had the privilege to attend the Harlem Gospel Choir concert at Eckerd College. What a wonderful time it was.
I have attended several events that student activities director Lova Patterson has directed. This was by far one of the best I have ever seen. What a great program, not only for students but the community as well.
The event prices are very reasonable, and the college security staff was very helpful with parking and seating.
Thank you to all who were involved for a fun evening.
P.W. Key, Nokomis