1. Archive

Pinellas libraries feel like Siberia revisited

We have been reading a lot of criticism regarding the main public library system in St. Petersburg. As a visitor to your area I have patronized many public libraries in the north and in the south, but I consider walking out of the hot sun into any library in Pinellas County like Siberia revisited. It's so cold!

No office buildings or even the huge food markets down here are as cold as the libraries. Unless my arms are covered it is difficult to do any writing in comfort. To those in charge, come on, give my arms a break!

Gilda Sleeve, St. Petersburg Beach

Protect homeowners' rights

Re: Court orders man to cut hedge, City Times, May 31.

In following the story of Hank Wallis, there is no longer any doubt that local courts, coupled with the Venetian Isles Homeowners Association, are eroding the individual rights of Floridians.

For 11 years, Hank Wallis fought the then newly formed homeowners association over its forced deed restrictions. The article states that Wallis built the house and planted the hedge before the "current deed restrictions" existed. All the man wanted was a natural fence, a hedge for the right to privacy that is constitutionally guaranteed.

Is there a problem here? I would implore the readers of this fine newspaper to write to their legislator _ if we want an "association" to make more entangling laws in regard to private home ownership, the only association that should have the right to elect laws is the one in Tallahassee. Never forget that this is the United States. We have a government that is "for the people," and if members of a family want a little privacy in their home, that right is theirs.

Frank Cowan, St. Petersburg

My sympathy goes to Hank Wallis, the homeowner who struggled for 11 years against the power of the Venetian Isles Homeowners Association, hoping to win the right to trim his hedge as he liked. This outrageous assault on "property values" aroused the ire of his neighbors.

The importance of property values can never be overstated. Without our constant vigilance, this important source of livelihood for real estate agents and tax collectors can easily deteriorate. The homeowners association should be commended for its vigilant guardianship of this, our most sacred trust. Its valor and diligence in this regard are unsurpassed since the days of Don Quixote.

Furthermore, Mr. Wallis had the temerity to permit grass to drape over his sea wall. How could he be so careless as to defile the austere beauty of urban Florida's contribution to God's creation _ the gray, solid, neat and orderly sea wall. To permit something green and natural and growing and, yes, dirty, to obscure this monument to affluence is unforgivable.

Mr. Wallis, not wanting to live around people like these homeowners, now wants to sell his home. I wish him well. Certainly somewhere in this "land of the free and home of the brave," there is a place where a man's home is his castle, somewhere where a man can live in peace, somewhere where self-righteous and arrogant people do not insist on imposing their tastes, their lifestyle, their religion or their moral attitudes on others. I hope that Mr. Wallis can find this paradise. And, if it is not in the desolate sands of the Sahara, the frigid icebergs of the Arctic or the impenetrable jungles of the Amazon, I hope he will tell me where it is.

Hal Potter, St. Petersburg