Dear Readers,

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption to the lives of everyone in Tampa Bay and to so many businesses in our community. Here at the Tampa Bay Times, we continue to provide free, up-to-date information at as a public service. But we need your help. Please consider supporting us by subscribing or donating, and by sharing our work. Thank you.

  1. News
  2. /
  3. Pasco

How can it cost Pasco libraries $386,000 to collect late fees, reader asks

Pasco County letters to the editor
Pasco County community news [TMCCARTY80 | Tara McCarty]

Re: Libraries eliminate late fees | Feb. 7 story

How nice to read that the Pasco County Library System will no longer dog us for late fees. Sounds like a break for the families who just can’t get it together to return books on time.

What it also tells me is that the library system is being run by English majors and those who have master’s degrees in library science, certainly not in economics. I find it astounding that they spent $386,000 trying to collect late fees. Wow. One can run a small city on less.

In addition to this figure, they only collected $68,000. The kid selling lemonade on the corner would’ve figured out a long time ago that this was not working.

Where did all of this money get spent? Sounds like an awful lot of postage stamps and stationery being sent out to equal that figure. Hard to believe. Perhaps there were specialists in fining scofflaws hired to crack down on these criminals. Perhaps these hired guns came at a hefty price.

I am stumped — and I think that the average person would be — to see these figures. Perhaps an explanation is in order.

Lewis Corvene, Hudson

Avoiding parkway as a ‘matter of principal’

I received a letter from the Florida Department of Transportation informing me that I owed them $4.91. When I got on the Suncoast Parkway southbound, the toll booth was empty. I called the transportation department, and they told me there was a sign on the south side of the booth with instructions, which I didn’t see.

I was fined $2.41, plus $2.50 for administrative charges. If a person were there, it would have cost 50 cents. Seems like a dirty trick.

This is the same Department of Transportation that wants to extend Ridge Road through subdivisions and wetlands in case of an evacuation. There has never been one. They also want to extend the Suncoast Parkway to nowhere.

My dad would drive to a gas station for gas 1 cent cheaper. He said it was a matter of principal. I will avoid the Suncoast Parkway; it’s a matter of principal.

Tom Karcher, New Port Richey

Ridge Road will never be a viable evacuation route

To the citizens of Pasco County, this is a response to U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ survey:

The Ridge Road extension is a road to nowhere. It will never function as a viable hurricane evacuation route. There are no shelters, as the Suncoast Parkway goes toward the coast in either direction and dead ends at U.S. 41. One must go north or south to access the hurricane evacuation routes, further exasperating the bottlenecks at the Suncoast Parkway and U.S. 41, and at State Roads 54 and 52.

The existing Ridge Road floods during minimally high rain events, suffering frequent closures. The extension will result in zero traffic reduction.

The statement, “... reasonable accommodation to minimize any negative impact to the environment and indigenous animals,” is patently absurd. Whenever you bisect preservation land with a road, it can never be managed properly with controlled burns, resulting in habitat degradation. Also, we already see on our roadways that cars slaughter the ‘indigenous animals’ no matter what kind of barriers you erect, or the number of ineffective and insufficient wildlife under-crossings.

Most importantly, this was mitigation for more than 220 acres of wetlands destroyed in the construction of the Suncoast Parkway, which was to be preserved in perpetuity (that’s forever, Gus). Furthermore, it is part and parcel to the greater Starkey Wilderness Preserve, creating more than 18,000 contiguous acres of Florida’s flora, fauna and habitat.

If this road is allowed to go through, it will be only the first of many cuts to bisect the Starkey Wilderness Preserve. This road was never about need, but about greed, and if there is a God, he will help us stop it.

Clay G. Colson, Land O’ Lakes

Re: Who wouldn’t want a coastal, aquatic preserve? Lots of people, apparently | Feb. 14 story

Several weeks ago, the International Game Fish Association, Coastal Conservation Association Florida, American Sportfishing Association, Captains for Clean Water, Angler Action Foundation, Wild Oceans, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Chittum Skiffs and Maverick Boat Group, drafted a letter supporting legislation (HB 1061 & SB 1042) to create the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve along Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.

As C.T. Bowen’s recent article described it, the preserve would fill a gap to protect the Gulf of Mexico’s largest seagrass bed — some 400,000 acres where fishing, scalloping and recreational activities contribute a $600 million economic benefit, 10,000 jobs and support 500 businesses. But this story’s headline did a disservice to the vast amount of support behind this measure. As statewide recreational fishing organizations and marine industry representatives that support the more than 1.2 million registered recreational anglers and boaters in Florida, we proudly stand with bill sponsors Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Beverly Hills, and Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Bartow, and the more than 100 local charter fishing captains, commercial fishermen, bait and tackle shops, restaurants, boat dealers, marinas, eco-tour operators and fishing clubs from the tri-county region who have endorsed these bills and are committed to keeping Florida the fishing capital of the world.

Healthy coastal habitat, good water quality, public use and coastal development are not mutually exclusive. This legislation will allow community stakeholders to work together to manage the preserve. For years we have been trying to halt and reverse the loss of thousands of acres of seagrass habitat in several of Florida’s southern estuaries. Why not take proactive steps to ensure the future of some of the best remaining seagrass habitat that we have? The proposed preserve would protect the region’s clean, clear water and vast seagrass meadows. In so doing, it also will maintain valuable outdoor activities such as fishing and boating, while accommodating growth in the region’s coastal communities.

Those who are skeptical of aquatic preserves need only look south to the successful Pinellas County and Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserves, which encapsulate the entire peninsula and a population significantly larger than that of Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties combined. These preserves don’t restrict access, but enhance for the public trust the coastal way of life that Floridians treasure.

In summary, HB 1061 and SB 1042 aren’t about creating onerous and unnecessary regulations. They’re intended to protect critical marine habitat that makes our state a premier destination for anglers and other outdoor marine enthusiasts.

Jason Schratwieser, president, International Game Fish Association