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Don't reject idea of beach that's clothing-optional

Re: Bare naked ladies, and men, at beach?

March 21.

I suppose I should be thankful to Pinellas County Commissioners John Moroni, Ken Welch and Calvin Harris for protecting me from the dangers of a clothing-optional beach. Oh, wait a minute, there are no dangers from such a beach. Well then I should be pleased that they are standing up for my moral values in opposing nudity. Oh yea, those are their moral values and not mine.

Should I be happy that public officials feel the need to impose their standards on me. I would challenge them to show me where the harm is in an officially designated, well-signed and demarcated, clothing-optional beach. I would ask them to speak to the county officials who oversee Haulover Beach, the officially designated clothing-optional beach that is part of the Miami-Dade County parks system. They will find out how such a beach can benefit the park department through increased revenues and the local economy through increased tourism. They will hear from them that Haulover Beach has not been a management problem. In fact, there are less problems on Haulover Beach than on other beaches in the county park system.

Perhaps they will then understand that a knee-jerk denial of the clothing-optional beach proposal should be replaced by a reasoned study of its merits. Perhaps then they will come to understand that special use areas of parks are just that. They are not meant to appeal to everyone, but that is no reason to deny them to those who would use them.

Will Perras, M.D., Tampa

Think of tourist dollars

Fort De Soto Park with seven miles of beaches is the right place for a European type beach. There are thousands of Pinellas residents who have been waiting for years for their own clothing-optional beach _ a safe, clearly marked beach under the control of the park rangers.

Naturist tourist dollars are the same as those from clothed tourists. Naturists from all over the states, Canada, Europe and South America would like to come to our Pinellas beaches. Why let Miami-Dade with legal Haulover Beach steal all the naturist tourist from the Pinellas tourist beaches? There is a very big loss of tourist dollars.

Al Bailey, Brandon

Naturist area makes sense

Re: Bare naked ladies, and men, at beach?

The Times' otherwise unbiased report on TAN's proposal to the Pinellas Parks Development Board overlooks two points. First is that the beach would be located in an isolated area of the park and provided with ample signage to prevent people from accidentally entering the clothing-optional area. The second is that nudity has existed at the Fort De Soto Park site for perhaps a century, as it does on many secluded beaches in the county, and that the park management currently spends time and money patrolling the beaches to warn or arrest nude sunbathers and skinny-dippers.

If a clothing-optional beach were designated, those people would go to the designated beach to avoid being hassled, and the park could use funds now used for such patrols for other park improvements. The park management became tired of trying to enforce the ban on dogs going free at Fort De Soto and recently set aside a special-use, leash-free "Dog Park" area for dog owners. We ask the same kind of special-use area for naturists.

Dick Korf, member, TAN board of directors, Gulfport

In defense of Lutz

Re: Bare naked ladies, and men, at beach?

I resent what Jamy Magro, a St. Petersburg lawyer, says about "downtown Lutz" as reported in the Times. Everything has its place. I have never heard a Lutz resident complain about nudism, but it is the basis for a lot of jokes expressed here by both genders (no harm intended). In Pasco, north of Lutz, there are a number of private nudist areas that harm no one and seldom if ever cause raised eyebrows. Those groups seem to behave themselves well.

Downtown Lutz, also known as "Beautiful Downtown Lutz," is one of Hillsborough County's oldest communities. It contains Hillsborough County's first historic landmark, also being on the National Register of Historic Places. Downtown Lutz is composed of a very conservative people who don't want county commissioners, land developers, business persons, exotic people, or anyone else for that matter to step on them. A public pool for nude persons in downtown Lutz would not be tolerated. Probably not even a public swimming pool would be accepted in downtown Lutz. The Lutz people, with the help of the county Sheriff's Department, chased a massage parlor out of town years ago. I hope that future writers will leave off downtown from the word Lutz when it doesn't pertain.

If a clothes-optional beach were established on public lands, it should not have an admission price unless all beaches on public lands also have the same.

Also, I have a bone to pick regarding the headline's use of "Bare naked ladies." The word "lady" denotes a woman who is refined, polite and well spoken. Not all women are ladies anymore than all men are gentlemen. Not only is the term incorrect for all women, but the writer then inconsistently refers to the masculine as "men" rather than gentlemen. Methinks that the headline writer is sex biased. My advice to writers: Do not refer to all women as ladies. Doing this you dilute a good word to have less than an honorable meaning. Also I believe that the expression, "bare naked," is redundant.

William H. H. Hoedt, Lutz

An identity problem

Mark Albright's story in the March 15 Business section, Tourist slump forces review, points to a perfect example of Einstein's theory of insanity: doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

Instead of looking to tax business more to support a program that isn't working, Pinellas County should take a close look at the program.

On March 16 of last year, we withdrew our proposal for the advertising for the local tourism account because we felt that ad dollars were being spread too thin, there was too much emphasis on the Internet and too much money wasted on markets "owned" by South Florida.

In addition, a study we undertook showed that the theme "Florida's Beach" had little or no impact on key areas.

+ One hundred percent of travel agents, out of state, couldn't tell us where "Florida's Beach" was.

+ One hundred percent of locals, the best sales force, couldn't tell us where "Florida's Beach" was.

+ There was no local "Florida's Beach" signage.

And while all hotels in Pinellas County pay the tax, St. Petersburg and Clearwater are called "Florida's Beach."

It's time for Pinellas County to face its identity problem.

Lee Elliot, the Iam Group, Inc., St. Petersburg

Put the money into schools

Re: FCAT-grading company to get $6.7-million more, March 18.

As a taxpayer and a teacher, I am aghast knowing that more of my tax dollars are going to a company that was contracted to grade the "wonderful tell-all, give infinite information" FCAT tests that we, as teachers, had to administer this month. Does the state government, under our esteemed governor and leadership in the Legislature and education commissioner, think it is fair to give the company more money to grade the test because it can't find qualified people to do the grading and meet the deadlines it agreed to, while we as teachers can't get smaller class sizes and enough supplies and help to get the children where they need to be, tests from the state or not? Who is running this state anyway?

We need to get real when we talk about children, their abilities and needs and about working to take them as far as they are able to go each year. Instead we have to worry about meeting some state "grading system" that only judges children on three days of tests, not what they accomplish in a year's time. Oh, and lest we forget, the scores can be manipulated by 5 points so the outcomes will look better if the present governor and his "education staff and legislators" don't look good enough at election time.

Give the school districts the money to reduce the class sizes and get enough teaching materials to do the job and things can change. You who have your heads in the beach sand better start paying attention to what is goin on!

Helen Ware, St. Petersburg

An alligator nuisance

Re: Largo man off hook for shooting gator,

March 19.

My wife and I and our three children, ages 4, 7 and 10, live in an apartment complex on the canal that connects Lake Tarpon and Tampa Bay. The complex has a central lake, two retention ponds and a rather ugly deep "ditch" with a runoff stream in it. The breezeway outside our only door is approximately 30 feet from this ditch. There are no barriers around this ditch. We've lived here four years, and have seen alligators 10 feet long or longer in this ditch frequently. A path to the tennis court is on one border of the ditch and actually dips down within 15 feet of the bottom of this ditch. Recently I saw a boy drop a tennis ball and scamper down the embankment to retrieve it, within feet of an alligator.

We've called our complex office many times on the alligators. The management here is excellent and has called the appropriate authorities a number of times, only to be told that the alligators cannot be moved unless they are a "nuisance." I've called the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to clarify the law, asking for a definition of "nuisance." Not once has anyone given us any form of a legal answer.

Try this: If a family with three children has to walk scared in and out of their apartment for four years, with alligators in plain sight within 30 feet (with no barriers), it is a "nuisance." If children on a proper, designed path to a tennis court are within harm's way of an alligator, it is a "nuisance."

We notice the county has many fences around the ditches and retention ponds in this canal area. What's wrong with a legal requirement of a 3-foot fence around these retention areas and ditches in apartment complexes? We didn't move into a game preserve, but a family friendly community. Let's not handle it like some safety considerations, where something is done after a tragedy.

David Hobbs, Palm Harbor

What happened to health cards?

Re: Hepatitis.

Why in the world did the health department quit requiring health cards for food service employees?

When I first started in food-related businesses in 1971 we were required to have a valid health card. Among other things, yearly blood tests were done to check for communicable diseases. It made sense then and it most certainly makes sense in this day and age when even more life-threatening transmittable diseases are on the rise.

Patricia Volonino, Largo

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