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    Letters to the Editors

    Wait for buses to fill before building monorail


    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 20, 2003

    Re: Monorail would create change in Clearwater, story, Feb. 4.

    This $1-billion monorail project must be fueled by contractors as well as possibly commissioners who somehow have contractor ties (past, present or future).

    The present buses that very few people use have much more geographic coverage and convenience to users than the proposed monorail, so why should we expect the monorail to reduce traffic? Let's fill the buses before we go hog wild on another huge, costly construction project like the monorail.

    Also, let's keep the county more serene, beautiful and more fiscally responsible rather than continually pushing for more development. Commissioners should use our tax money more responsibly by repaving streets in desperate need like Fort Harrison, helping to decrease the growing presence of illegal immigrants, improving schools and lowering our taxes to match the faltering economy.

    And, by the way, I have experienced more delays from the new Memorial Causeway Bridge construction in the past year than I have experienced in the past five years from bridge openings for boats.
    -- Bernie Browne, Clearwater

    Make bus system work for commuters

    Re: Monorail.

    Although exciting to think about, is a monorail really practical for Clearwater when the infrastructure for a transportation system already exists?

    I am a former city commissioner in West Palm Beach (1992 to 1999) and presently an urban development consultant. The issue of moving people around is constantly receiving our attention.

    The Clearwater bus system is a network that has a massive infrastructure. Why aren't the local officials examining ways to enhance this system so that it works for more commuters and is less polluting?

    When I lived in Manhattan, I traveled by bus almost everywhere. You could walk a block or two from anywhere and catch a bus in a few minutes that would, if necessary, connect to another that would take you where you wanted to go. It is much faster than traveling by car. In Clearwater, it takes four to 10 times longer to take a bus than a car. Why would anyone take a bus unless he had to? A short 10-minute car ride can take up to two hours by bus in Clearwater.

    Some balanced research needs to be done by the county to answer the question of whether it pays to create a questionable new infrastructure for a monorail or invest in an existing bus infrastructure to make it work for more people. Many cities throughout South America and Europe are doing this with great success.
    -- Howard Warshauer, West Palm Beach

    Presentations on bridge lauded

    Re: Bridge price overstated, letter, Feb. 19.

    Tony Horrnik and HDR Engineering are to be commended for the excellence of their presentations regarding the Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge. It was a clear and thorough presentation.

    As a retired architect, I know firsthand how complex and contentious these issues can be. Each bridge is its own animal, with differing structural, environmental and economic factors. HDR employed very sophisticated computer animations to illustrate the visual impact of the bridge on the surrounding properties.

    My personal opinion is that the fixed-span bridge will affect the fewest people. It offered the cleanest profile without any of the bulkiness of the bascule alternatives. It also is, undoubtedly, the least expensive to build and maintain.

    Quite contrary to the letter writer's opinion, I believe that Tony Horrnik and HDR are working hard and competently to provide our county with the highest possible professional services and standards. Further, I think that the letter writer is purposely sowing disinformation to sway us toward a more costly and inefficient bridge design. That he is making baseless accusations of conspiracy against the engineers involved in this project is the height of selfishness, in my estimation, and without any merit whatsoever.
    -- Paul Kuykendall, Belleair Bluffs

    Commission ignores what people want

    I'm wondering if any of the current Largo city commissioners live in the real world. I seriously doubt it. Who in their right mind decides to build something (large or small) without having the funding lined up before you approve the project and sign contracts?

    One commissioner was quoted in your candidates article of Feb. 2 as saying they (the commissioners) have been talking about the library project for three or four years. Why is it the public didn't know until recently? Or is it that people didn't mind until the project doubled in size and more than doubled in cost?

    Whatever the reason, more than 200 people showed up to speak out against the project and yet the commission pressed onward. This just confirms what the critics of the commission and mayor have been saying: They don't care what the people want; they will do what they want, and the citizens of Largo will be made to pay for it.

    The commission and the mayor have made a big deal out of the joint citizen and commission workshops they've set up. They are complaining about attendance being low at these events. Perhaps it's a little too late. What makes them think that people will show up for these when they have proved time and again by their actions they don't care what the citizens want?

    To all those citizens who feel as I do, come out to the debate on Feb. 26 at the Largo Cultural Center, 7 to 9 p.m. Listen to what all the candidates have to say, bring your questions for them and finally exercise your right to vote on March 4.
    -- Sally Bechtel, Largo

    Wal-Mart would just add to congestion

    Re: Ask developers of Wal-Mart to boost funding for Belcher, letter by Frank J. Muscarella Jr., Jan. 31.

    My answer to Frank Muscarella is that he has only a temporary problem.

    We have a continuing problem. I live in Glen Eagles, next to Innisbrook off U.S. 19. We have a problem now getting out onto U.S. 19. We have 80,000 cars a day that travel on U.S. 19, maybe more. And he wants them to build a giant Wal-Mart. I don't care how beautiful it will be. We don't want it.

    I can't imagine the traffic then, with more cars and many more trucks coming into Wal-Mart. We have enough grocery stores in the area: Albertsons, Kash n' Karry, Winn-Dixie and Publix. What more do we need?

    Doesn't Muscarella know that U.S. 19 between Alderman and Klosterman roads is called Death Valley because of so many deaths and accidents? Why add to it?

    I have two daughters living in West Lake. I haven't heard them complain about Alderman, but mention U.S. 19 and that's a different story. They, too, know how dangerous U.S. 19 is, and they try to stay off it and go onto Belcher road.

    I think the only reason Frank Muscarella wants Wal-Mart is because they said they would put up the money to extend Belcher sooner than 2007. I've been to the meeting we had at our clubhouse. Don't be fooled by them.
    -- Virginia McManus, Palm Harbor

    Kmart does not donate bad food

    In response to G. Robinson's Friday letter concerning Kmart dumping food, I would assure all those concerned that we would never destroy food that is usable. It is the policy of Kmart, and I'm sure other food retailers, not to donate outdated, infested or contaminated food for obvious reasons. We have donated to local schools, churches, civic organizations and the Oldsmar Parks and Recreation Department in the past.

    I'm very sorry G. Robinson has such a low opinion of us. If anyone has questions about our practices, I would encourage them to call me for an explanation.
    -- Ron Melton, Oldsmar Kmart manager

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