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  1. Letters to the Editor

Letters: Pot-stirring on Albert Whitted Airport

A rush to clip Albert Whitted's wings | Daniel Ruth column, Sept. 26

Set sensationalism aside; airport has earned its spot

I've worked at Albert Whitted Airport since 2005, as a flight instructor and mechanic. Columnist Daniel Ruth cited a pair of accidents as a cause of concern for having an airport downtown. While noting 97,000 safe landings per year, he suggests the public may vote again to "shutter" the airport, a suggestion as illogical as recommending we remove roads because of car accidents. Aircraft accidents are sensational because they're rare, and capitalizing on the excitement, Ruth is stirring the pot on an issue we've already decided.

Ruth states "Albert Whitted looms as an obstacle toward creating one, continuous walkable public space," presumably a suggestion to link the northern park system to Lassing Park with a waterfront sidewalk. He fails to mention that the airport isn't the only obstacle to that goal. Eighth Avenue SE hosts the St. Petersburg Port, SRI International, the USF marina, a water treatment facility and the U.S. Coast Guard. Not one of them is accessible to the public.

Ruth mentions millions in federal funding the city receives from operating the airport, but his suggestions for easing "public safety anxieties" are that "banner-towing flights should be moved elsewhere," and "flight schools need to be encouraged to find another place to do business." The hole in Ruth's logic? The federal funding is to ensure safety of our active airport, activity based on takeoffs and landings. Who performs the lion's share of those takeoffs and landings? Flight schools and commercial operators.

Nathan Van Coops, St. Petersburg

Address the real problems

It is curious that St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman would pick right now to try to start a dialogue about "highest and best" use for the Albert Whitted land. During his campaign, he promised a Pier completion date of 2015; he has since extended that timeline to late 2017. And now he is hoping to open up another debate, further dividing our residents.

We have a dubious Tropicana Field situation and a boarded-up Pier. Does he propose we shut down Albert Whitted in the meantime as well? If this is the mind-set at City Hall, then I can only assume that Boyd Hill Nature Park's future is the next political time bomb to bubble back up to the surface.

Albert Whitted is already community-friendly. The Hangar restaurant is popular, and deservedly so. The airport itself not only houses private planes but boasts reasonably priced helicopter and plane tours of the city. And the "corporate titans," while a wonderful scapegoat of big business, are a demographic we need for sustainable expansion. The entire city is going through a building boom. And if there aren't corporations, both small and big, expanding in the industrial areas bordering downtown, then what once was a housing drought will become an unmanageable deluge of vacancies with no one to fill them.

We don't need another failure, or more division. Instead, we need to focus on solving real problems, not fixing something that isn't broken.

Robert G. Blackmon, St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg closer to universal curbside recycling | Sept. 26

Nix biweekly schedule

The League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area is pleased that St. Petersburg is taking steps to fund the costs associated with providing universal curbside recycling to single-family residences. The purchase of bins for residents and specialized trucks for collection is a solid step forward. However, to take time to assess the demand for the services by offering it biweekly simply does not make sense.

The overall goal of providing universal curbside recycling service is to substantially increase the tonnage of recyclable waste collected and then sold, while reducing the tonnage of trash for which we pay tipping fees. The first will generate revenue for the city, and the second will reduce costs.

Now is the time to keep moving forward by establishing an implementation timetable and setting tonnage goals. A biweekly collection cycle would not only be confusing but would slow down progress toward increasing recyclable waste and the collection of the associated revenues.

Karen Coale, League of Women Voters, St. Petersburg

Progress needn't kill one's ears | letter, Sept. 5

Keep low-rise charm

The article about pile-driving for new construction, while informative, neatly skirted one major issue: Is this what we want for St. Petersburg? Well-connected, out-of-town developers will squeeze every dime they can out of real estate — this 17-story building, a 13-story building only a block away, now a 41-story condo project only blocks from that.

Numerous development plans have called for "low-rise construction," not only because of St. Petersburg's clay, sediment and sand but for the vision and charm of the city. Driving 2,000-plus metal pipes will allow the construction, but that and the resulting noise are not the only "price of development," as city spokesman Ben Kirby callously put it. The real price is the loss of the city as we know it and as it brought us here to live. City Council, take note!

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

The roadwork blues

I spent the last year or so guessing the best way to navigate from my home in south St. Pete to my office in Clearwater. There was road construction everywhere. I figured with all this work being done, some good might come of it. Wrong! The flooding on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in the 42nd Avenue S area is worse than ever.

Gary Wenner, St. Petersburg

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