1. Archive

Unease about mobile home plan is undue

During the past two months, there has been extensive discussion, debate and speculation regarding the city of Largo's desire for redevelopment of mobile home parks within the community. It is truly unfortunate that as a result of the substantial misinformation that has been disseminated, many residents within the mobile home communities have been unnecessarily burdened by the thought of city action resulting in the loss of their mobile homes and way of life.

As chairman of the Largo task force that examined the redevelopment of mobile homes within the Clearwater-Largo Road corridor, I can personally give testimony that there has not been any discussion regarding the redevelopment of mobile homes outside of the redevelopment area. After the government-created task force met and discussed this issue, the task force recommended a mobile home preservation policy to the City Commission that included four key provisions:

The need to develop an incentive-based relocation plan for those residents who could be displaced by redevelopment in mobile home parks.

Implementation of Pinellas County's Park Saver Program, which would offer low-interest loans to purchase the park as a cooperative.

The issuance of a "notice of displacement due to government action" for unit owners to have preference for housing assistance.

A commitment by the city of Largo to provide low-interest loans and financing to owners of mobile homes for home improvement to keep park values from deteriorating in the future.

These four recommendations have been reviewed with the City Commission and have been approved for further consideration and the identification of funding later this year.

There has been absolutely no discussion regarding the redevelopment of other mobile home parks throughout the city in connection with the Clearwater-Largo Road discussions focusing on tenant-based RV parks.

It is truly unfortunate that a segment of the community has chosen to utilize the city's community based effort to address affordable housing opportunities within the Clearwater-Largo Road corridor as a way of scaring residents of Largo concerning the future of their mobile home parks.

During the next two months, I am looking forward to working cooperatively with the city of Largo to review the mobile home preservation policy with all interested mobile home communities, and I urge all interested parties to par-ticipate in these discussions to ensure you are properly educated on this issue.

Ron Bortolini, chairman

Redevelopment Task Force, Largo

Residents, learn the details of city plan, defend your homes

A real problem mobile home owners have today is convincing government officials that we live in manufactured homes, not mobile. As long as we are thought of as "mobile," a park owner has a legal right to ask us to hitch up our homes and move them to another site. Where? Then the park owner proceeds to request a land-use change from a residential mobile home park to another type of business or residence. Closing down a mobile home park is the same as going into a subdivision of site-built homes and forcing them off the land. Think of the uproar that would be heard if this should happen.

When will this inequity cease? How can elderly retirees ever have the peace and security they seek in sunny Florida when all their park owners need do is give them a one-year notice to leave? The mobile home owner is not compensated in any way.

Pinellas County and its cities have declared they have little land left for growth, so they have agreed to solve this problem by stating that density will be their new explanation for any future land-use changes.

My 480-home park could easily be accused of not having the correct "density." We could be charged with not being dense enough, and our homes could be removed and 480 three-story condos erected, thereby tripling the density.

Mobile home owners need to learn more about this program, about the elected officials and this plan. If we have nothing else, we have the vote. We can't vote wisely if we are not informed. The park leadership should start thinking about this and learn all they can about density. Both rental parks and resident-owned parks can be affected.

J.W. (Bill) Jones, past president

Largo Area Mobile Home Owners Council, Largo

Editorial on commission race outcome shows Times hypocrisy

Re: Congrats with a caveat to 3 Largo incumbents, editorial, March 6. This piece of fish wrapper readily admits to all the very serious problems that the challengers in the Largo election had brought to the fore. The editorial writer misuses the word "baggage" and whom it should have been directed to, which we know is the incumbents.

I am flabbergasted at the insolence, putting this article in the paper two days after the Largo election, admitting a laundry list of items that the Times will frequently use for the ouster of those in office they don't like and whom they would be demanding the removal of as incompetent elected officials. To recap what she wrote:

+ The winners should not consider the outcome as a vote for business as usual.

+ Two challengers had "baggage" and still gleaned 42 and 43 percent of the vote.

+ The numbers represent more than token support for the challengers.

+ It's time for the incumbents to take an unblinking look at what they don't do well.

+ Neither staff nor commissioners are good at communicating with the public.

+ Improve ineffective television problem (after years).

+ Improve staff presentations at meetings.

+ Televise all commission meetings.

+ The three challengers hit hard on the subject of public communication and "it's clear that City Hall has lacked skills at doing that effectively." Two major and controversial issues _ improving Clearwater-Largo Road, which was a botched plan, and the mobile home issue, which should have been done correctly and initially with the public _ are the examples.

And then the final, ridiculous jab: "If they address some of the criticisms they heard (from the challengers) during this election season, they will be a better commission in the end." My God, what Times hypocrisy!

Leslie Foster, Largo

Too much "progress' means the opposite for area's seniors

Isn't it time that Pinellas County commissioners keep their word and slow progress on U.S. 19 until traffic issues can be brought up to acceptable safety standards? Not only is a Wal-Mart Supercenter unneeded, but has anyone given thought to the many seniors that are going to be displaced and basically have been bribed to move for a few years of free rent?

Seniors who are able to walk to the current Wal-Mart on Alderman Road will lose that right. It is disheartening that anyone could feel there is a lack of convenience with our current retail situation. Twenty years ago that claim could have been made, but let's be honest _ U.S. 19 is totally saturated with retail convenience. Why not move the proposed location to Holiday and jump-start Pasco County? I'm sure hundreds of seniors, whose voices are drowned out by the Wilder Corp.'s well-versed and money-offering lawyers, would embrace that idea.

We've had enough progress. Please, for Pinellas County's drivers and many seniors who would be adversely affected, "Just say no" to the Wilder Corp. and Wal-Mart.

Dawne Smith, Palm Harbor