Folks, it is happening again. This time, the "progress" is happening just up the beach from Fort De Soto Park - on Treasure Island's beach.
City officials in Treasure Island, fueled with grant funding, are moving full steam ahead with the design for laying an additional 1.5 miles of pavement directly on the beach.
Treasure Island is part of the beach system that Dr. Stephen Leatherman said "is blessed with some of the finest whitest sand there is." Now, this stunning natural resource is at risk of being commercialized.
Even though a new sidewalk and bicycle path were recently added along Gulf Boulevard south of Central Avenue, the initial concept presented by Phil Graham and Associates calls for a 10- to 12-foot-wide cement "beach trail" to be poured in front of homes and businesses - similar to Venice Beach, Calif.
The initial concept also calls for a retaining wall and "sea-turtle friendly" lighting. C'mon, the kind of lighting that is most "friendly" to endangered sea turtles is no lighting at all.
Howard Troxler's observations in his Feb. 23 column (Public should be involved before a boulder starts rolling) are spot-on. By the time most government actions attract public attention, the deal is almost done.
Well, the boulder is about to start rolling. Just as you helped keep Fort De Soto Park from being commercialized, please write to or call the Treasure Island City officials.
Their phone numbers and e-mail addresses can be found on the city's Web site: www.mytreasureisland.org.
Once again, in the name of "progress" and commercialization, our natural resources are being trampled on. The whole project is risky. And a "beach trail" already exists in Treasure Island. It's the beautiful, natural strand of powder-white sand that has delighted people for years.
Lara Valverde, Citizens for a Natural Treasure Island Beach (www.naturaltibeach.com), Treasure Island
St. Pete Beach needs this balanced plan
Re: Martohue's bias is the real issue, letter, Feb. 22.
I acknowledge the letter writer's strong advocacy as a formidable force in this campaign. I respect the courage of her convictions.
Listening to people while on the campaign trail this past month has reinforced my sense that people, both for and against the plan, seem to feel strongly about it, with good reason.
We all have a lot at stake, in both our individual and collective quality of life. I've made no secret that I am a strong proponent of the redevelopment plan.
I've worked hard to inform and be available to the residents of District 1 and any citizen who has asked me questions; it is a small community. Most people I've talked with, armed with the truth about the plan, seem to agree that a status-quo approach to our future is neither realistic nor desirable.
The plan has passed muster by all local, county, regional and state agencies entrusted with its review and approval. Due diligence has been, and will continue to be, exhaustive. It has the unanimous support of the City Commission.
I'm not the only commissioner in favor of the plan. However, I do seem to attract a fair amount of energy expended by my opposition's constituency, perhaps because I am up for re-election.
I feel passionately about these issues today because I don't see us having much of a second chance. We have few properties we can preserve as hotels. I worry that if we allow those properties to redevelop under current regulations, we as a community will be living with the consequences of poor or no planning for decades to come.
We will discover, too late, that our precious land has been gobbled up to make room for expensive residential condominiums, often left vacant for most of the year - leaving little or no room for our historic tourist industry and shoving out the middle class.
I worry that as go our tourists, so goes the fragile economic framework that supports our small, local merchants. As go our merchants, so goes the unique quality of life we've all come to enjoy, a quality of life that is the envy of most other places.
About those things I feel passionately. I think they matter. I encourage a spirited discussion of the merits of this plan vs. no plan - based on the facts. I believe in a balanced plan for our community.
The adopted plan provides many more opportunities to enhance building safety, to create environmentally sensitive designs, to implement a higher-quality aesthetic design standard, and to preserve and protect a 100-year tradition of tourism.
To be able to live, work and play in St. Pete Beach is not just a campaign slogan - it is smart growth, which is a goal to be sought and achieved.
Deborah Martohue, vice mayor, District 1 commissioner,
St. Pete Beach
Let firefighters focus on their jobs
Re: To keep jobs, fire chief, lieutenant must change, Feb. 15.
Is this how we want our firefighters treated? We depend on these brave men and women to run into our burning homes and save us. Do you want them thinking about what the chief or lieutenant is going to do to them next or thinking about saving you?
Jackie Mungo, Redington Shores
All veterans deserve our thanks
Re: Gifts, visit highlight invaluable veterans, by Jill Ann Perrino, Feb. 22.
It made me proud to be an American after reading about people from the Military Order of the Purple Heart going over to the Bay Pines VA Medical Center to thank veterans for their service and to give them goodie bags.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if grateful Americans would say to each veteran, "You are always in our hearts. You are never forgotten"?
There is no greater service than to have served one's homeland. Caring Americans who put flowers and flags on veterans' gravesites and who visit those in VA hospitals are marvelous and meritorious folks who exemplify the best of the best in our nation.
Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg
Red-light argument doesn't make sense
Re: Stoplights are more red than green, letter,Feb. 22.
This argument just doesn't make sense. If the light is red going one way, then it is green for the same length of time going the other way, given a few seconds for yellow.
I would put this in the category of "It takes a pot of water longer to boil if you watch it."
Donald F. Kelly, St. Petersburg