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Library wants tax for features it doesn't need

Re: Forum raises tax question, story, Feb. 2.

As a frequent user of the Palm Harbor Library, I feel I am qualified to express my opinion on the matter of the upcoming referendum vote.

If the library was in trouble and could not meet its obligations and expenses to continue to function, a tax increase could help us keep this valuable community service.

But it is not that at all. It is a matter of the director's wish to expand the building and increase the staff. He also claims that children have run amok in the place and cites that as a need to expand the children's section. I bring my three young children there at least twice a month and I am there more than that. I have never seen what Gene Coppola has claimed.

The article in the St. Petersburg Times on Feb. 2 stated that it is against the law for the library to raise funds for promotional items to be used in support of passing this tax increase, but that has not stopped them for plastering their support for this tax increase on everything from their Web site to the bookmarks they hand out.

I enjoy the library and will continue to use the service that my current taxes pay for, but there's no need to raise taxes to pay for a expansion when the current facility is more than adequate.

Rick Whitelaw, Palm Harbor

Concession project won't harm Honeymoon Island

In response to the many letters against a wedding pavilion at Honeymoon Island, I would like to take this opportunity to state the positive.

The original intent of Honeymoon Island was to be a vacation spot with thatched huts for honeymooners to get away and celebrate their special event in a relaxing and exotic environment.

The state and the current concessionaire at Honeymoon Island State Park are bringing that history back in a small way. What I am reading is that a small extension would be added to the current concession stand. They are not going to build a massive structure. The state and the concessionaire would not destroy the beauty of Honeymoon Island. They are both good stewards of what many of us think is an exotic island.

Not only could this small extension be used for weddings but also as an education center to teach and inform the public of the island's history, flora and fauna.

In traveling throughout the country, I have noticed other states that work in conjunction with private businesses to handle the concessions in their park systems. Some of these parks have lodges and hotels in their parks. The intent here on Honeymoon Island is staying within the aesthetics of our little piece of paradise.

I commend the state on its decision to outsource to the professionals who will do a first-class job. The state can then concentrate on what it does best: preserving the integrity of the island.

The government and private industry working in harmony - what a novel idea.

Lou Michalik, Dunedin

Tarpon Springs can follow Clearwater's lead on arts

At the Jan. 31 Tarpon Springs City Commission meeting, Margo Walbolt, cultural affairs manager for the City of Clearwater, presented information on Clearwater's adoption of a public art program. I applaud Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris and the commissioners for their interest in and consideration of the role art can play in our daily lives when incorporated into public spaces.

I am a member of the Stone Soup Project committee, formed last year to benefit the Shepherd Center of Tarpon Springs. The success of our first fundraiser was due primarily to the local artists who participated and the art lovers who came to see art and bid on it. The Sullivan Gallery and Blue Moon Gallery also contributed greatly to the success of the event.

As a member of that committee, a volunteer for the Shepherd Center, a resident of Tarpon Springs and a proud collector of art, I wholeheartedly support adoption of a similar public art program in Tarpon Springs.

Cynthia McGowan, Tarpon Springs

Don't disparage county's mobile home parks

Re: Mobile home parks are a blight, drag on county, letter, Feb. 2.

I am responding to the letter writer who thinks there should be no mobile homes in the county. I agree that some of the older ones do cause blight in some areas. However, there are a number of resident-owned parks that are very nice. They have only doublewides, and some have a privacy fence around the entire park.

There are some residents in our park who are still employed. Like my husband and me, they bought, hoping very much that this would be their last move. If our park is sold, we will be forced to walk away, leaving our home and investment behind.

Take a good look at the retired military personnel who can afford housing in a park such as ours. Not all of them came out of a career protecting this wonderful country as four-star generals.

Incidentally, our park is loaded with tall oak trees draped with moss. I don't feel that these beautiful trees should be destroyed so that developers can build high-rises. Also, a lot of people are on fixed incomes.

M.J. Gibson, Clearwater

Hurricane Katrina victims still in need of our help

I returned this week from Van Cleave, Miss., where I helped with the disaster recovery in Pascagoula, Miss. It is now five months since the hurricanes and the people of the area are still working to recover from what was dealt them.

There is a small church in Van Cleave that is hosting people from across the country and coordinating the relief effort. They have turned their church into a relief center with dormitories for volunteers and provided meals cooked by local volunteers. It is a truly amazing effort.

I went with a group from Aldersgate Methodist Church in Largo. There was also a group there from Palm Harbor Methodist Church on Belcher Road in Palm Harbor. For both groups this was a return trip. We had all been there before.

I am writing this to encourage people in our area to assist with this effort. The need is great and will be for some time to come. Please consider making a donation. You can contact either of these local churches, and they can accept your donation or steer you to the Van Cleave church.

The people of the area are working hard to help themselves, but it is going to take help from all of us if they are going to recover completely. Thank you for listening to me and please consider my request.

Richard Hambley, Largo

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