100 years later, parks still need us | March 21, editorial
Support your parks by volunteering
I would like to thank the author of the editorial not only for the history lesson about the downtown waterfront parks in St. Petersburg, but also for covering the commitment and dedication to a cause shown by city leaders and activists in the past. We can all be thankful that the leadership of St. Petersburg during the Great Depression stayed the course and kept the irreplaceable park lands free of commerce and intact for development as parks for later, better times.
We are now facing very similar circumstances in parks and recreation departments throughout the country. As a retired supervisor from the Pinellas County Parks Department, I see the current impact that the perfect storm of a historic recession and lowered revenues from property tax collections have had on the staffing and maintenance levels in my system's parks.
In talking with current park supervisors and directors from other park systems in our state, I have heard similar stories of challenges facing them every day of just "putting the fires out." Most parks are only getting those tasks done that directly relate to maintaining safety in the parks. One supervisor told me they haven't painted their picnic tables in three years, a task usually done every season.
Our parks are an important part of our communities. Now, more than ever, we need our parks and recreation facilities to supply meaningful recreation opportunities to citizens at a low tax rate and/or user fee cost.
I would urge citizens who have the spare time and desire to make a difference to contact your local government system to seek out volunteer opportunities in your favorite park. Believe me, your skills will be used in some way and will be appreciated by the managers of that park or recreation facility. It is a rewarding way to give back to your community and to enjoy your favorite park in a more intimate way as a caregiver.
To volunteer in one of the Pinellas County parks, you can contact our Volunteer Services Department at (727) 464-3945 or by e-mail at the county's Web site, pinellascounty.org/volserv.
Fred Bruder, Seminole
Let the public vote on park funding
Faced with the loss of $80 million in revenue over the next two years, the Pinellas County commissioners have an enormous challenge as they try to find ways to continue to manage and operate our parks and preserves. As long as they remain in the general fund they will be vulnerable to inadequate land management, the "mothballing" of their educational facilities, or even being closed completely.
I believe this challenge can only be addressed with a change in the way we fund our green spaces. Sadly, revenue generated by assessing fees at the parks and preserves and installing parking meters, probably the most commonly discussed income alternatives, will not nearly cover the expense required for their adequate management and operation.
It's time to offer citizens the opportunity to vote for a dedicated parks and preserve millage and assure their operation and maintenance. If voters say no, those of us pushing hard for the continued and adequate funding of parks and preserves and their educational facilities will have to accept that the public simply does not value them as much as we do. If the voters say yes, we can continue to offer what had become, before the cuts took most of their management and operation "down to the bare bones," a system that offered citizens and tourists alike a first-class opportunity to experience the real Florida.
Carla Garbin, St. Petersburg
Man fleeing DUI stop crashes, dies | March 20
Let police do their jobs and chase
To chase or not to chase: The debate has raged for quite some time now. Those against chasing the criminals cite the dangers to the public in general.
Having been a professional driver, doing mostly local runs, most of my adult life, I have considerable experience in city traffic. I've never witnessed the police chasing anyone. It appears that such chases are pretty rare. Maybe I was never in the right place at the wrong time. The theory is that when the cops chase bad guys, bad things happen to good people.
I picked up the St. Petersburg Times and read that the cops didn't chase a bad guy and, still, bad things happened. Somebody's van got crunched. Who pays for the totaled van? Certainly not the criminal.
I hold that it's bad when the criminal escapes, even if no innocents are harmed. Criminals, left to their own designs, will sooner or later harm someone. I'd rather the cops were allowed to do their jobs; I'll take my chances. Maybe I'll get killed in the process. I might also get hit by a meteorite.
Richard R. Harris, St. Petersburg
Unkempt complex needs range of fixes | March 24, letter
Panhandlers keep him from BayWalk
I never gave much thought to why I don't go to BayWalk anymore, but I have to agree with the letter writer completely. Since the time it was built, I used to drive down to BayWalk for dinner and a movie, passing many other venues along the way, because I liked it so much. I stopped driving down there two years ago. Nine months ago, I relocated not far from there, but I find myself driving much farther to other venues just to avoid BayWalk.
If the Times ever reports they've done something about the droves of delinquents/panhandlers down there (which will make the facilities less messy), I may give it another shot, but until then, I and my guests will steer clear. The protesters simply don't figure into the equation.
Brian Niver, St. Petersburg
Thank you to an honest person
I am writing to prove that most people in this world are honest. I lost my diamond and ruby heart necklace on Feb. 26. I had been to at least five places, and I retraced my steps. I kept returning to these places to see if anyone had turned it in.
After returning to these places at least three times in two weeks, my husband said I might as well forget it. I just had faith someone would return it, so after church I stopped in at Publix one last time. This time the girl behind the customer service counter checked in the safe. My necklace had been there all the time! As tough as times are today, how great it is to know we have honest people all around us.
They didn't know who had found it, so I can't thank the person. But I hope he or she reads this and knows how grateful I am. God bless you.
Sharon Horrigan, South Pasadena