Pinellas County wants to rezone 100 acres of undeveloped land along Old Keystone Road from a rural designation to "Recreation - Open Space" to allow expansion of ball fields for the sole use of a private organization, the East Lake Youth Sports Association. With school enrollment down and Pinellas County basically built out, ELYSA has had to recruit youths from Pasco and Hillsborough counties to round out its teams. So is an expansion really necessary?
If approved, the county could spend $2-million to develop this land and then lease the property to ELYSA for $1 a year. The county's Culture, Education and Leisure Department would purchase and manage this area.
This is perplexing, since reductions in the 2009 county budget resulted in the net loss of 60 positions in the parks and recreation division of the Culture, Education and Leisure Department alone. Employees have lost jobs, services have been cut, and new fees have been instituted.
So why does Pinellas County want to build and fund a private sports complex? Yes, "Vision Pinellas," passed in February 2006, includes a strategic plan to construct ball fields in the northern and southern portions of the county. In this new economic reality, however, shouldn't that be considered a wish? Priorities!
Environmental impacts, traffic and noise are all negative factors that will have to be considered if this rezoning passes, and the costs of developing the property are likely to increase substantially. Whether this is funded through Penny for Pinellas or grants, Pinellas County taxpayers ultimately pay the bill.
How can the development of a private ballfield using county taxes be justified? This is not a county park for all county residents to use, but a private organization with high fees to participate in a sport.
Cutting services and eliminating positions throughout the county park system, then turning around and funding an expansion for a private organization that must draw participants from other counties does not make sense and is certainly not a prudent use of the Pinellas County taxpayers' money.
Stephanie Stefanelli, Tarpon Springs
Too few voting sites
Pinellas County has a population of close to a million people, but there are only three early voting locations in our county.
I stood in line Monday for about two hours to vote. Many of the election workers were asking if anyone wanted a paper ballot to mail in. Although there were many people in line, there was not one taker of the paper ballot. We were also informed that the lines would only get worse as time went by.
In Pinellas County, we deserve more than three early voting locations.
Arlene Guarnier, Clearwater
Around 1 a.m. Sunday my Obama/Biden sign was stolen from my front yard.
At first I was mad, but now I'm thinking how pathetic the people are who are stealing them across the city. Do they think this changes the outcome? Steal a sign and Obama goes away? That's not how it works.
If doing things in the dark of night makes you feel like a better person, go for it. I just think it makes you cowards.
R.L. Wood, St. Petersburg
More Pinellas cabbies fearful on the job - Oct. 10, story
Pay is low, too
This story leaves quite a bit missing. It seems the reporter didn't talk to any of the Independent Taxi Service drivers to get their take on the new rules that put them in harm's way. I've talked to several, and they are afraid that these types of forced pickups will only lead to more incidents of driver abuse.
The Independent drivers are not quitting because of the danger. They're quitting because of the subpar equipment (read: cars) and the economic conditions. It's bad enough that the people of St. Petersburg don't tip drivers (except maybe the occasional quarter), but then add the outlandish gas prices and drivers these days barely make minimum wage. Add to that the people who try to short them.
I have created a forum for cabdrivers (and any one else) to discuss relevant issues. It can be found at www.thetaxistand.freeforums.org. I invite all drivers in the Tampa Bay area to join. It's free. Maybe we can figure out what happened to the "cab crime watch" that never materialized.
These cab companies have done nothing to protect the drivers and everything to increase the bottom line.
And next time you call a cab, be nice and tip the driver.
K. Allen Loper, St. Petersburg
Nice fresh market
I spent about an hour last week at the Monday Market in the Park in Pinellas Park (Town Square Plaza Park, 5120 80th Ave. N). A great selection of fruits and vegetables were available along with vendors offering honey and nuts from Lutz.I learned how to promote additional blooming for my orchids from Tony the Orchid Guy. Then I picked up a bottle of barbecue sauce from a local company.
I stopped in based on a tip from a friend. I will be back to this friendly shopping experience in an unhurried environment.
Bruce Robinson, Clearwater
A ray of sunshine
After attending a recent Rays game, I became disoriented about where I parked. I was miles from the car. A very nice lady took me to her car and drove me to my car after conferring with the police as to the possible location of the car. She took her own time and did that.
I caught her first name but neglected to get her full name and contact information to send her a thank-you note.
Thank you. There are some very nice people on the streets of our cities, though we seldom hear about them.
John B. Munns, Palm Bay
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