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Spring Lake isn't Spring Hill, yet

Editor: Re: Destiny in Spring Lake, May 14 Hernando Times article by Dan DeWitt:

As a 20-year resident (farmer) in Spring Lake, I can see it is doomed. The very reason people find it so appealing is threatened by the type of newcomer who stupidly says she "hopes for a Bob Evans and a shopping mall." Let her move down to Pinellas County.

The Realtors, who are looking for the almighty dollar, want to see a trailer on every acre. One states, "It is not going to ruin the rural effect. In Spring Hill, you can build at least 20 homes on that much property." To compare Spring Hill to Spring Lake is asinine. That type of greedy thinking eventually will be the destruction of our unique and charming Spring Lake.

J. Edward Bates, Spring Lake

The tale behind the traffic light

Editor: Re: Pandering amounts to an empty promise, May 11 editorial:

I would like to set the record straight about the false hope to a group of residents about a traffic light on U.S. 19. The false hope started with a representative of the state Department of Transportation, not the Hernando County commissioners.

The plan for extending Beryl Road, at a cost of $225,000 for the county and $300,000 for the DOT, was conveyed to the residents of River Country Estates in September 1998. At that time it was understood a traffic light could not be installed at the entrance because of DOT's one-half-mile limitation between traffic lights, and the one at Northcliffe Boulevard being less than that distance.

On Aug. 5, 1999, I attended an open house held by the DOT at Fox Chapel Middle School to present the plan for widening U.S. 19 to six lanes. At the meeting an explanation of the effect on River County Road, Northcliffe Boulevard and Beryl Road could not be visually presented because the section of map pertaining to that location was missing. Representatives of DOT were available for questions and answers. Considering the high cost of the proposed Beryl Road extension, I asked a DOT representative whether a waiver or exception could be made to the one-half-mile limitation. The answer was, "Yes, it is sometimes done."

Further, I asked how we would proceed to ask for the waiver, and was told something to the effect that the DOT took into consideration the recommendations of Metropolitan Planning Organizations when developing its plans. I also asked the representative whether I could have a copy of the missing map section. Within a short time a copy of the section was mailed to me at my home. That was my first opportunity to see the proposed plan.

It was because of the hope given by the DOT representative that the campaign for a traffic signal was supported by me. After that meeting, I made contacts by e-mail to the county commissioners, our state senator, our state representative, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and other officials, requesting assistance in obtaining a traffic signal. In the final analysis, the information from the DOT representative turned out to be the false hope.

I served on the ad hoc committee that worked on the attempt to get a traffic signal at the entrance. If we had been told initially by the DOT representative that the DOT would not waiver under any circumstance once plans were drawn up, we would not have waged a futile campaign to obtain a safe and less costly entrance.

To add fuel to the fire, we met with our state representative, who seemed to agree with the need for a safer solution than that proposed by the DOT. However, his solution was to ask the DOT for a status report on what it was doing. Why? We already knew what they were doing. That was the reason we asked for his assistance in obtaining a traffic signal. If the state representative did not know it was hopeless to challenge the DOT plan, why should the county commissioners know?

Traffic lights have been placed elsewhere on Florida highways in less than one-half-mile of each other. Precedents had been set.

On May 9, we lost the bid with the Hernando County Commission for a permanent traffic signal at the entrance to River Country Drive, but we learned something in the process. That is, a little more personal knowledge about the officials who we elected to represent us.

Lowell M. Cooper, Spring Hill

Library numbers are adding up

Editor: County Administrator Paul McIntosh and county commissioners did the right thing appointing Barbara Shiftlett from interim to permanent library services director. With 82,671 card holders and, in April alone, 32,374 patron visits and a circulation county of 50,641, we are getting our money's worth in this area.

The reference area was used by 8,292 residents and there were 135,844 Internet hits during the previous month of March.

Yes, folks in Hernando are a pretty erudite bunch.

Arthur R. Croci, Spring Hill

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