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At St. Peter's: good man, bad plan

Re: Plans at St. Peter's cause deep rift, Feb. 8.

I was cited in Waveney Ann Moore's article as one of the opponents of the redevelopment plan of St. Peter's Episcopal Cathedral. It is true that I do not support its dean's plan and am deeply concerned that he may have signed away the future of the cathedral. With that said, I personally believe the Very Rev. Russell L. Johnson is a good man who is simply making a grievous error of blind faith.

William H. Mills, Donald Jenkins, Peter Lilly, Thomas McLean and I all have "roots that run deep at St. Peter's." Collectively, we have expertise to fully understand all the elements of St. Peter's redevelopment plan and the contract with its developer. We have concluded that St. Peter's is "leveraging" everything it owns, including its endowments and future income, for a fraction of what the developer stands to gain.

The truth is, Dean Johnson explained to me that he has great faith in the developer because he believes the developer wants the "prestige" of erecting a 20- to 30-story condominium, a 300-car garage for the condominium and retail space, with the land and $5-million that St. Peter's is giving the developer. In exchange, the developer will also have the "prestige" of tearing down a perfectly sturdy ministry building and replacing it with a new ministry building for St. Peter's; plus St. Peter's gets 35 parking spaces for its 900-member congregation. The math is simple: The developers approximate that 125 condos will each sell in the neighborhood of $300,000. Yet St. Peter's gets only 35 parking spaces.

Dean Johnson believes we should follow the antiquated protocol of not expressing our opinion for the direction he is taking St. Peter's because he wears the cloth. It is not that simple.

St. Peter's is rich in the history of our community, and anyone who walks inside its sanctuary can feel its holiness. St. Peter's plate should be used for "renewal" of its ministry. The renewal of a ministry is one that feeds the hungry and serves those less fortunate.

Just across the street from St. Peter's is Williams Park, where the homeless reside. It would be much easier to justify serving their needs than risking it all on a plan that lines the pockets of developers and gives the church a minimum of its real needs.

Marie M. Dahm, St. Petersburg

Mobile home solution: senseless

Re: It's time that mobile homes moved along, letter, Feb. 8.

The letter writer seems to think that the residents of mobile homes should just move to Polk County. I wonder whether the writer has considered how many of these people work in Pinellas County and cannot afford cars. By moving to Polk County, those who do own cars would be driving for three hours (or more) per day. As it is, there are those who work three jobs, and sleep for three or four hours each night as a result. The public does not need the danger of sleepy drivers on the road.

As for the statement about their drain on "valuable social services," it will only worsen when they are evicted from their homes. Therefore, the need for mental health services and public housing will be further strained. Perhaps these residents cannot afford to pay the taxes for these services, but as a matter of compassion, they deserve this help.

Instead of moving to Polk County, perhaps they should camp out on the properties of the patsies of the developers who are responsible: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and the City Council, the county commissioners and Gov. Jeb Bush!

Elka Zwick, St. Petersburg

Narrow-minded assumptions

Re: It's time that mobile homes moved along.

I want to make sure I understand the letter writer correctly. "Mobile homes" (which, by the way are hardly "mobile") should be banned from the county, but it's okay for them to move to Polk County?

Granted, there may be a few parks that could be considered a blight, but the majority of the parks - I prefer to refer to them as "communities" - are well maintained by residents who do pay taxes, are registered voters, take pride in their homes, patronize local businesses and restaurants, and don't "suck up" a cent of valuable social services.

Shame on the letter writer for making such uninformed, narrow-minded assumptions!

Linda Lade, South Pasadena

Boats out front are fine

I think that Pinellas County's idea to ban boats from the front of homes is a bad idea. A similar ordinance in St. Petersburg has generated a great deal of resentment among many boat owners.

I have owned a small boat, on a trailer, for more than 50 years. For about 30 of those years I parked the boat on a driveway at the side of my house. Now I am required to keep it at the rear of my house. This deprives me of the use of my garage for my car. I have a choice of getting rid of the boat, renting a space for it elsewhere, or not garaging my car.

Most boats appear to me as attractive as the cars and trucks that use the front driveways. I feel that the county should poll residents to see how they feel about such an ordinance.

Ray Lydon, St. Petersburg

Drama students earn applause

Re: Dramatic teenage behavior encouraged here, by Jane Madden Welch, Feb. 1.

I applaud Ms. Welch for her article. She not only recognized individual winners in the annual District IV Thespian Festival but she focused the spotlight on an amazing fact: that 800 Pinellas County high school drama students participated in the three-day event!

The item was particularly exciting given the limited amount of media coverage currently devoted to high school students who excel in singing, dancing and acting. Pinellas residents are fortunate to be where dedicated teachers like Michael Vasallo work tirelessly to develop "such a supporting community" among our fine-arts scholars at the high school level while his colleagues are providing instruction at the elementary and middle school levels for countless children who are showing an interest in that area of study.

Too often the number of articles about the artistic endeavors of local young people is overshadowed by the number of those printed about students involved in sports. Aspiring entertainers and athletes face equal demands during their training: learning self-discipline, broadening their commitment to their craft, and cultivating team spirit.

Ms. Welch's "dramatic encouragement" is greatly appreciated.

Dorothy M. Thrush, St. Petersburg

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