Since launching our new website and commenting platform, we’ve been encouraging readers to share their thoughts with us by engaging in a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times.

Today we’re starting something new. Here are the comments that stood out to us — the ones that made us think, or challenged us, or made us laugh. If you want to see more of the conversation, click on the name of the commenter to see the original comment under the story. Comments may be edited for length.

We hope to regularly share our favorite contributions from readers going forward. And we’d love to hear what you think about this idea. Let us know in (you guessed it) the comments section.

On development in St. Petersburg

Real estate reporter Susan Taylor Martin wrote about a 50-floor skyscraper coming to downtown St. Petersburg last week. New York’s Red Apple Group plans to break ground on a massive tower that will include around 325 condos, a 200-room hotel and 800 parking spaces. Dozens of readers shared their thoughts on the project and St. Pete development in general. You can read the story and see what people thought here.

New York’s Red Apple Group plans this approximately 50-story mixed used tower on the 400 block of Central Avenue. [Courtesy of Arquitectonica]
New York’s Red Apple Group plans this approximately 50-story mixed used tower on the 400 block of Central Avenue. [Courtesy of Arquitectonica]

Some highlights:

“Wow, this is not what Downtown St. Pete needs at all. It’s totally out of touch with the vibe of the city and those that already live there. I moved away from New York to get away from buildings like this.” — SA86

“Love it! Beautiful addition to downtown💃🏻”Joey_M

"For decades, St. Petersburg has had a rather sad and pathetic identity crisis, which has gained momentum over the past decade. Instead of forging ahead with a unique identify of our own, city leaders have sought to emulate others...

...Now, with our rampant, uncontrolled, overly-dense development, we are destined to become more like Ft. Lauderdale, with their ugly “wall of condos,” defacing an otherwise beautiful skyline.

All of that being said, St. Petersburg remains one of the finest cities in Florida, and all of the United States. I’m thrilled with the significant increase in my property value over the past five years. Still, we are headed in the wrong direction, especially with development..." — Mike_Mayo (Edited for length. Click on the name to read the whole comment.)

“The entire family operating the Apple Group has a major “Edifice Complex”!”James_Harold_Jackson

On the day it snowed in Tampa Bay 42 years ago

Saturday marked the 42nd anniversary of Tampa Bay’s last major snowfall, when the icy roads were clogged with accidents and many Floridians played in the snow for the first time. Readers shared their favorite memories from that Jan. 19, 1977 day.

Michelle, Stacy and David McAdams awoke the morning of Jan. 17, 1977 to find snow on their lawn. They made snowballs, which they put in the freezer. [Contributed Photo | Times archives]
Michelle, Stacy and David McAdams awoke the morning of Jan. 17, 1977 to find snow on their lawn. They made snowballs, which they put in the freezer. [Contributed Photo | Times archives]

“January 1977 I had my tonsils removed. The next morning I awoke to the roof of Palms of Pasadena Hospital covered in snow. What a strange feeling. Later after arriving home, my mother called from her trip in India to check on me. She thought my father had put us up to telling her this whopper of a lie. It wasn’t until a few days later when she returned home we showed her the newspaper accounts. I grew up in Pennsylvania, so it wasn’t my first time seeing snow, but it was the first time in Florida since we moved there in 1969.”A_Downing

"I remember the snow in this area and the problems that people had trying to drive on the icy roads. There was also a time in the early 90′s when it snowed a little north of here around the Christmas Holidays and they had to close I-75 because so many people were sliding off of the road.

Then there was the time when it got down to 18 degrees and The St. Petersburg Times printed the entire front page of the newspaper in blue. Besides the roads being icy, that was a time when not everyone used anti-freeze in their cars. This resulted in a lot of frozen radiators and cracked engine blocks. Good times." — Ronnie44

“Well I was 28 myself. First I looked outside and saw my lawn was covered and at first I thought some kids had pranked me by having a dump truck unload ice on my lawn but then looked down the street and it was everywhere. I was in North Tampa and we had a full inch, maybe a little more on the ground.” — Ron

“I was new to town and had recently lived in Buffalo, New York. I lived on Davis Islands and had to walk to work downtown. The bridges to Davis Island were parking lots of scatterd automobile wrecks. “Don’t these people know that bridges freeze over with black ice?” I asked myself. Apparently not.” — Stephen_Morrill

Even more readers weighed in with their memories of that day on Facebook. Check out the post here:

On documenting the homeless population

Pasco County reporter CT Bowen wrote about the team of volunteers attempting to count the homeless population in Pasco County. He nominated this comment from a reader named Maria Brandes. “I liked this one because the person offered thoughtful analysis to homeless story, rather than caustic insults,” he said.

“Our county really needs to look for affordable housing options for those on incomes of $1,000 a month or less. There are people on the streets that have monthly imcome but can’t afford housing. A true Section 8 program would be a valuable resource to enable ALICE residents a chance to be have a dependable roof over their head. Kudos to West Pasco Habitat for Humanity for doing what they can but it isn’t enough for such a large problem.” — Maria_Brandes

On Tampa Bay’s biggest eyesores

This list of the landmarks around town that Tampa Bay residents love to hate was compiled from reader submissions. They were also invited to share their thoughts about what made it on the list and what didn’t.

“Tampa Greyhound Track is an eyesore to me. I love the beer can building, and I love the water tower. Honestly, I wish they would level the dog track and the building adjacent to it on Bird Street. Build the Rays' stadium there on the Hillsborough River and revamp the water tower. Level the old K-Mart across the interstate and have parking there. Eyesores to me are things that could be beautiful but are unutilized. So I get the water tower being one. The Sulphur Springs Theatre is another.” — Michael_Tompkins

“The only one that’s an eyesore is the flour mill. the rest ARE Tampa. I love the Beer Can Building (never knew it by any other name). Talk about eyesore, the exploding chicken IS one. get rid of it. But what about other cities. That AWFUL looking thing in Nashville is THE ugliest thing I’ve ever seen, BUT it’s THEIR landmark. We can look at Nashville downtown and KNOW it’s Nashville. The same with Tropicana Field and Beer can building. They ARE Tampa (bay)” — Linda_Chatlos_Clements

"I spent a lot of my “civilian” career working mostly the inner city of Tampa. I started there when south and east of downtown were industry and shipping and there was still a Seddon Island. Crime was out of control and public housing in some instances were little mini war zones. As I finished my career, a lot had changed during my tenure, much of it for the good.

I have long since retired to my ranch north of the Bay Area but recently went and spent a day touring the old “mean streets”. I found a lot of beauty in the city I still call home in my heart. I caught Rick’s On The River, stopped and watched a couple of alligators and numerous bass, needlefish and other wildlife while walking the boardwalk at the Springs. The people I met and talked with were friendly and seemed quite engaged when I talked a little about the history of different parts of Tampa. Not history from a book, but history I got to live and experience.

I finished my trip back north taking in some of the wonders in the north end of the city along the Hillsborough River. Many don’t realize that a lot of that area is actually a part of The City of Tampa.

I agree that the stain of development is often unsightly and sad, but sometimes if you just put aside cynicism and bitterness, there is much to appreciate about “my” city. I’ll always miss it, eyesores and all." GordonKendrick

“Tampa Bay Times should survey the most beautiful building in Tampa. To show city pride. I vote Tampa Theater.”Michelle_Zehnder (We loved this idea so much that we’re going to do it. Comment below to nominate the most beautiful place in Tampa Bay.)

Contact Gabrielle Calise at [email protected] Follow @gabriellecalise.