1. Archive

Support for resort comes a bit too late

I am a former employee of the Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa who worked there for 5{ years, and I can say with authority that if all of you people who are now coming out of the woodwork to "save the grand lady" would have supported the hotel in the last 10 years, it wouldn't be in the condition and situation it is in today.

Over the years we had tried to develop programs and events that would get the community to the hotel, and most went unsupported. Several management teams tried their best to no avail. The public has no clue what it costs to operate that beast of a building every week.

Now, you want to know what upsets me the most? None of the bleeding heart dreamers are offering any solution as to the financing to see their fantasies realized. These are all people who have a problem thinking with their heads instead of their hearts. Who should pay for all of these grand plans so that they can have their way and visit the hotel a few times a year? If there had been ample money in the past to do all of these things they have pointed out, don't you think they would already have been done?

Please, people, your support is a little too late. They would have appreciated it years ago.

Randall Durham, Largo

Citizens' advice would fix bus route priorities for PSTA

Re: Politics reroutes PSTA proposal, story, Jan. 5.

Why do the County Commission and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority want to force higher taxes on municipalities to support a service for others with a negative net gain to those cities?

If you ask me, this political football has been held by the taxmakers far too long. Now they want to add more commissioners to the PSTA board. What they need is some citizen input in order to improve the service, expand where needed and have the will to cancel those policies and routes that are too costly for the service they provide.

Just one example is Route 82, which winds down Enterprise Road to Safety Harbor and back to Clearwater. Every morning I jog along Enterprise and there are bus stops every couple of hundred yards. These are expensive to build because of Americans With Disabilities Act requirements.

Occasionally, I will see one or two passengers at one of these stops waiting to board a 45-seat bus that runs almost empty. Whatever happened to the policy of using smaller, less expensive vehicles on those routes with a handful of riders? Heck, an extended van would be more than adequate and a lot less expensive to buy, fuel and maintain.

About all those bus stops: I'm not sure how many there are systemwide, but at least in the Countryside area they are far too many and too close together. One purpose of a bus system besides providing transportation to those who choose or must use it, is to lessen vehicular traffic, thereby reducing congestion. Relocation and modification of many PSTA stops would help far more than expanding an expensive tax drain to areas that clearly do not want it.

If you have ever been in the outside lanes of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard during rush hour, you have no doubt become stuck behind a PSTA bus loading a handful of passengers with kids, baggage and bicycles. The stops east and west of U.S. 19 are ridiculous. Move them farther from major intersections, use rights of way for off-street bus stops and quit backing up traffic.

A final piece of advice: Provide service where it is wanted, needed and used _ not where the PSTA board and County Commission feel it should be added.

Dennis Roper, Clearwater

Think beyond personal gain on Anclote project funding

Responding to a letter from a fellow Pinellas taxpayer, Jim Harpham of Palm Harbor (Anclote project wastes tax money better sent elsewhere, Dec. 27), I first must say that he and I are in the same boat, or lack thereof. I am from Tarpon Springs, and for a while I thought, rather selfishly, that I might be able to see the sweep of the Anclote Lighthouse beacon from my house.

Well, some wealthy so-and-so built a multistoried mansion right on the vector between me and the lighthouse. So now I had this issue: Is this project still worthwhile? (You also should know that my wife and I threw some funds into the pot of the private fundraisers.) You know what? It comes down to the same old decision about what is of value to us as a whole.

Jim, how will you and I benefit? I don't know. Perhaps wealthy folks with boats will be attracted to Palm Harbor, raising real estate values. Perhaps a taxpaying marina in our community will sell more boats, thereby lessening our burden. Perhaps some tipsy seafarer will run aground in our notoriously shallow waters and require help (for a price).

Or perhaps we will just, for a few cents, have preserved a historical landmark.

Carl E. Tack Jr., Tarpon Springs