1. Archive

Let's restore, not destroy, parts of past

Re: Biltmore's demise should wait for memories to fade, guest column by Don S. Audibert, Dec. 26.

I enjoyed Mr. Audibert's column recalling his history with the Belleview Biltmore Hotel and agree with his feelings wholeheartedly.

However, on each visit I make to the property, it is painfully evident that she is a failing grand lady. Something must be done to preserve her dignity, but not demolition. As a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I strongly believe we need to do our best to restore, not destroy, those irreplaceable pieces of our past that are so few and far between.

With each visit to places like the Clearwater Beach Hotel and the Belleview Biltmore, I feel sad and basically angry. I was born at Morton Plant Hospital and grew up in Largo. I bought the house I had lived in since my birth and have restored, remodeled and repaired it as my own. There is a great feeling of comfort and yes, pride, in knowing that as long as I am able, I am doing what I can to preserve a small piece of my history. Amid all our striving for a return to our roots, it seems we defeat our own purposes when we continue to demolish buildings from the past.

I am no architect or engineer, but perhaps restoring and leaving just the main building of the Belleview Biltmore (removing the ridiculous pagoda entrance) would help ease the burden. There can still be functions held in the wonderful rooms, dining in the dining room and visits to the spa that will bring in needed monies and yet not be so overwhelming to maintain.

It seems to me that the biggest burden is from the massive number of guest rooms. I saw evidence of that on my last visit; all the wings needed painting and all the roofs needed repair. Would it be such a burden to maintain just a fraction of the rooms for added revenue?

I am definitely not a fan of high-rise condominiums on the property, but if there were some aesthetically pleasing and coordinating building done, with the centerpiece being the main hotel building, that might satisfy the parties concerned.

Perhaps this is a simplistic view of the situation, but sometimes out of the simplest ideas come solutions. Let's not look at the old lady as an eyesore, as some have called her, but rather see the beauty that once was and try to restore some dignity to her. And to ourselves.

Marcelle Kirkland, LargoReport cyclists, skaters

who go through stop signs

Re: Some trail users stop at nothing, letter, Jan. 2.

In response to Alan Goodale's letter, I would say, "Right on target." As a former resident of Palm Harbor and Crystal Beach, I had the same experiences with the cyclists and skaters on the Pinellas Trail. In Crystal Beach, beside the post office was and still is the worst crossing. These violators need to be ticketed. (By the way, I have seen the trail rangers watch these people go through the stop signs and do nothing about it).

On a recent visit, I went to Crystal Beach to look at our old property and nothing had changed; the cyclists still ride through the stop signs as if they don't exist. More people need to report these violations before someone else gets killed. Thank you, Alan.

I now live in Dixie County and we have a trail here as well. However, there are no four-way stop signs, just two-way, and the people using the trail must stop _ (a better idea, I believe.

Paul L. Johnson, Old TownParents should plan vacations

to fit around school calendar

Re: Current school schedule gives students too much vacation time, letter, Dec. 16.

It is blatantly obvious from Barbara Troop's letter regarding school vacation time that she has never tried to teach class when a room is half-empty due to high absenteeism in the few days left before any major holiday. Trying to coordinate make-up work (as well as continue progress) for absent students in bulk is a teacher nightmare.

The very thought of having to attend any workshop after teaching all day is abhorrent. The school district would never be able to offer a quality schedule of teacher in-service training if workshops were held after school. After whose school _ 2 p.m. for high school, 3 p.m. or so for elementary, or 4 p.m. for middle schools? And where would the funds come from to pay the attendees?

As a retired Pinellas County educator of 36 years' service, I can vouch that quality education for students comes from quality provided for them by their concerned educators and their parents working together. The school calendar is set by the district well in advance and School Board meetings are open to the public. If parents planned their vacation time to fit the school calendar rather than taking their children out of school at the drop of every hat, perhaps the Calendar Committee (volunteer for this, Ms. Troop) could schedule times differently and accommodate Ms. Troop's wishes to have her children in school more of the year.

Pinellas County teachers do an admirable job of educating a very mobile, constantly shifting student population. Stop throwing darts at those who are doing a good job. And give me a break! When did you ever go and "get educated" after working all day with from 30 to 150 students? Refreshed? Relaxed? Not!

Tamara D. Badders, Largo