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    Letters to the Editors

    Interest in land shows county's skewed priorities

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 29, 2002

    I chuckle at the thought of our county government. Just a year ago it insisted on raising property taxes to pay $15-million for new voting equipment, blaming state government for an unfunded mandate. The Penny for Pinellas tax money was overspent by county government in the same year.

    Now that an 88-acre property close to Wall Springs Park comes available at a $21.4-million price tag, the County Commission is out to seize this pristine prize.

    Already this year County Administrator Steve Spratt has floated numerous trial balloons for new taxes and suggested that new persons would not be added to social services due to budget constraints. What are the priorities of our commission?

    It also makes me laugh to think of our county government as stewards for the environment. Remember how Brooker Creek Preserve was supposed to be "a pristine watershed." Well, now we have a need for new soccer fields and it becomes "harvestable timber" with no mention of the environmental impact to our watershed by using the cocktail of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers required for the fields.

    When I see the county buying these 88 acres, I think about what it's really going to cost: $21.4-million, plus the lost tax revenue on the land. Then there's the new county employees, their salaries, benefits and pensions, the recreation/nature centers, athletic fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, new vehicles, equipment, etc.

    I start to think that luxury homes on the tax rolls are not such a bad idea.

    County government is no Nature Conservancy. When they need a location for the latest NIMBY project -- sewage treatment facility, desal plant, incinerator -- they'll have just the location. I seriously doubt cattle will be roaming the property once the county owns it.
    -- Avis Traester, Palm Harbor

    Solution is common sense, not stoplight

    Re: Reason dictates action at parkway, Curlew crossings, editorial, April 9.

    The first sentence of this editorial says it all: common sense.

    The intersection of Gull Aire Boulevard and Curlew Road is not pedestrian-friendly. There is no place to pause between the two sets of three lanes; there is no island in the middle to offer temporary protection while crossing. There is no signage and no crosswalk markings.

    But about 200 feet east of this intersection is a crosswalk specifically designed for pedestrians. This crosswalk could be improved with flashing yellow lights but is otherwise well designed.

    The common sense that needs to be applied is to use the designated crosswalk rather than risk the unprotected intersection.

    A parallel situation exists in regard to left turns from Gull Aire Boulevard into westbound Curlew Road. This is also very dangerous and can be easily avoided by using a U-turn lane installed for this purpose about 600 feet to the east.

    The clamor for a stoplight at this intersection has a failed premise: It will solve all the problems. Rather, I believe it will only compound problems and contribute to traffic congestion.
    -- Russell Koehring, Oldsmar

    Complaints among police are unfounded

    Re: Officers air morale complaints on Web site, story, March 25.

    Maybe the Clearwater Fraternal Order of Police should look at its leadership as regards the morale of the Clearwater Police Department.

    As a citizen I can't find much fault with making officers fill out a form to justify "touching a scumbag" (as stated by FOP second vice president Jeff Rawson). Was that a little tap with your billy club or a Rodney King touch, Mr. Rawson?

    And oh my gosh. The department used private funds and grants to reach out to the community instead of padding the pockets of the police officers? The city used money to beautify itself instead of giving it all to the Police Department? How wasteful for a tourist destination to even dream of keeping up appearances.

    And holy smokes, you can't park on the first two levels of the parking garage? That is still free parking for you, is it not?

    Fourth-highest among 15 police agencies in the county, and that is still not good enough for Mr. Rawson. Please, do the community, the FOP, the Police Department and yourself a favor and go quickly to the Tampa Police Department.
    -- Robert Prescott, Clearwater

    Florida drivers are ones with problems

    Re: Seniors should make way on roads for working people, letter, March 22.

    For some time, I have considered writing my opinion to the Times and always put it off. But reading this letter writer's opinion prompted me to finally do it.

    I live in Wisconsin, am retired and do enjoy the warmer weather in Florida's winter. Wisconsin is the third highest-taxing state in the country, we have superior education and roads; I am willing to help pay state income taxes for them and would not consider moving.

    Florida, on the other hand, uses tourism to fund much of its tax income. I have no problem with that, as it is my decision whether or not to visit here. But when some "nitwit" tells me I'm not to drive on her streets and highways at certain times, it makes me angry. I may be driving to Busch Gardens, a country club, restaurant or wherever, and my money is being used for your streets, so don't tell me to stay off them at any time.

    The problem is in the mind-set of many Florida drivers. I have driven in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, New York City and Washington, D.C., and nowhere else have I observed the speeding and racetrack mentality, rudeness, running of red lights and downright dangerous driving habits of many Florida drivers. I don't drive slowly; most times I am driving at least 10 mph faster than the posted speed limit, but often I'll have someone go by me 20 mph faster than I am already going.

    Floridians seem to be very concerned about what other states think of them. Well, let me give you a clue: I call local drivers "Flor-idiots," and I believe it very appropriate. I was driving on East Bay Drive in Largo where the posted speed limit is 45 mph. I was doing 53 mph in the middle lane. A driver in the inside lane wasn't satisfied with traffic in front of him so, in the space of about 100 feet, he zoomed over two lanes to the outside and then two lanes back to the inside, just to gain one car length. Now, that is being an idiot.

    If one of the cars hadn't braked severely, there would have been an accident involving several cars. Then he continued by running a red light that had turned red at least five seconds before he got to the intersection. To make matters worse, a police car was waiting in the left-turn lane and should have seen the entire incident but did nothing.

    This happens all the time down here. If that person drove like that in Wisconsin, his license would be pulled and he would face a $1,000 fine. The police down here are way too lenient. They think they can run a prepublicized speed trap once a year, issue 100 tickets and pat themselves on the back for doing a good job. What a laugh.

    There are tons of empty condos and hotel rooms in Pinellas County. I wonder how many of them are empty because the snowbirds are afraid to drive on your roads. You already have a tax problem -- it may get worse.

    To the person who wants the retirees to stay off the roads: Someday you will be older and retired. Where will you be driving?
    -- Glenn Bergelin, Largo

    Be patient, use common sense

    Re: Seniors should make way on roads for working people.

    I was very disturbed with this letter indicating that seniors should stay off the roads between 6 and 9 a.m. and between 4 and 7 p.m.

    The reasons we are here include being at certain places at certain times. If the "working stiffs" would allow just a little more time and obey traffic sense, they wouldn't become so frustrated.

    Younger drivers often go 20 miles over the speed limit and weave in and out of traffic lanes. They honk if you stop for a stop sign, often not seeing that other cars have the right of way.
    -- Mary Anderson, Safety Harbor

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