Clearwater leaders to blame for Crest Lake Park's deterioration

Clearwater closed the Crest Lake Park restrooms last June to discourage the homeless from lingering.
Clearwater closed the Crest Lake Park restrooms last June to discourage the homeless from lingering.
Published Jan. 12, 2013

Re: Man knifed to death pedaling home | story, Jan. 8

Leaders to blame for park's deterioration

There was a time in Clearwater's history that Crest Lake Park was a focal point in a city that was known as "Sparkling Clearwater." But now our city has let this once-busy and beautiful park deteriorate into a refuge for the homeless and a hunting ground for the violent.

Clearwater's leadership has poured millions into what was once known as downtown Clearwater, but is now no more than the campus for the Church of Scientology.

More millions have been wasted on useless traffic calming speed bumps and roundabouts all over Clearwater.

It is a shame that our city's leadership has not been interested in keeping Crest Lake Park an area that is family friendly and above all, safe. Welded-shut bathrooms, trash and poorly maintained landscaping is what is left of what was once a thriving city park.

We used to swim off the dock and fish for bass and just plain enjoy the beauty of this natural open space. Now, the public should be concerned about being safe if they dare venture to Crest Lake Park. Shame on you, Clearwater leadership.

R. Padgett, Clearwater

Re: A shocking lack of compassion | letter, Jan. 6

City shouldn't fund free dental clinic

The free dental clinic idea was brought to the city of Clearwater by an individual from Palm Harbor who has a passion for free dental services, and I commend him for his commitment to helping the disadvantaged. His organization is seeking city of Clearwater taxpayer funds to include staff time and a physical facility.

I do not support a free dental clinic with Clearwater taxpayer funds because:

• Pinellas County has the responsibility for social services within the county, which makes sense because social issues must be addressed on a countywide basis. Pinellas County has studied their dental clinic proposal and turned them down repeatedly over the past four years.

• Clearwater taxpayers would be funding the free dental clinic, which is being founded by non-Clearwater citizens, to service a population that will include a large number of non-Clearwater citizens (again, this is why Pinellas County should support rather than the city of Clearwater).

• There are an endless number of worthy organizations, causes, etc. What does the city tell the next one that approaches the city for financial support? What about a free medical clinic? What about a free substance abuse facility? What about a free legal clinic? What about a free child care facility?

• Funding nonprofit organizations is not the city of Clearwater's core mission. We are responsible for general government, police, fire, library, parks and recreation, planning and public works, among other responsibilities. If we devote our finite resources to the endless number of worthy nonprofit organizations, there are fewer resources to meet our core mission — unless we are willing to substantially raise our millage rate, and, in my opinion, the majority of Clearwater voters do not support raising their real property taxes for services not directly related to our core mission.

I hope this email adequately explains my position. And it is for these reasons that I will not be supporting the use of city of Clearwater taxpayer funds for the free dental clinic or any of the other free clinics and facilities that are certain to approach us if this proposal is approved.

I do encourage your readers to donate to Community Dental Clinic, 200 Orangewood Drive, Dunedin, FL 34698. I am mailing my donation today.

Paul Gibson, vice mayor, Clearwater

Re: Celebratory gunfire

Close loopholes on fireworks

While it is unlawful to purchase fireworks that explode or fly in Florida, there are loopholes that allow any moron who wants to annoy his neighbors, and drive their pets crazy, and is too lazy to take his children to one of the many municipal displays in this area to put on his own personal show.

The police will not respond to complaints about fireworks because they are overwhelmed with calls. And because it is hard to distinguish between fireworks and gunfire, other fools shoot their guns in the air, causing injury and property damage every New Year's and Fourth of July.

If the Legislature would close the loopholes and forbid the sale of fireworks, we may have quieter neighborhoods and law enforcement that would respond to shots fired. They would then stand a chance of apprehending these people, making the world safer for the rest of us.

Thomas Cruffler, Dunedin

Re: A move is afoot to save this park | story, Jan. 6

Moccasin Lake worth preserving

I was delighted to read the article about the Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater.

It is a quiet, peaceful spot in the middle of a bustling city. I am a postal letter carrier and have delivered mail there for many years. I often take my breaks there, and just enjoy the tranquility around the park and listen to the birds and wildlife.

I would hate to see the park disappear as a haven of solitude, as there are so few places like this that exist in Clearwater.

Plus, Elvis the vulture would hate to lose his home.

Dave Deal, Safety Harbor

Mentors, it's time to reconnect

As the nation celebrates National Mentoring Month, it is important to let all mentoring-minded people know how much they matter. Across the nation, Big Brothers Big Sisters is reconnecting with alumni Bigs, Littles, donors and family, staff and board members.

The reunion effort is an extension of Start Something, a national initiative Big Brothers Big Sisters unveiled two years ago in partnership with the Ad Council. The effort invites all adults — not just volunteers —to support quality mentoring to change the odds for children facing adversity.

The 2012 nationwide search and reunite effort extends Start Something to hundreds of thousands of people who have an affinity with Big Brothers Big Sisters, but have not been asked to stay or become re-engaged with the organization.

Our hope is that by bringing our alumni together and showing them how much we appreciate them, we will open avenues for people who are already invested in our work to "Start Something (Again)" to help kids succeed in school and life.

Each year, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 4,000 youth right here in the Tampa Bay area. Most of them are children of single, low-income or incarcerated parents, or sons and daughters of military personnel. Longstanding independent research and Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Survey results find children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters improve in areas such as school, behavior and self-esteem.

Today, as Big Brothers Big Sisters embarks on a nationwide search to reunite with former Bigs, Littles, donors and family, staff and board members, I encourage you to ask friends and family once involved to visit our websites and reconnect with us. And if you are the person with whom we have lost contact, we believe National Mentoring Month is a perfect time to Start Something (Again).

Susan Rolston, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County

Stephen Koch, president, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay