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Letters to the Editors

Residents want to make a difference


© St. Petersburg Times
published March 9, 2003

Editor: Over the years, depending on the issue, there have been letters from what is hopefully a small minority of residents in other communities implying, among other things, that Sugarmill Woods is a wealthy community of self-centered people who gain influence with the county and state through the use of pinstriped lawyers plus some other mystical type of clout ("pixie dust," one recent letter writer called it).

It is way past time to dispel these notions once and for all.

For starters, take a look at the latest census and you will see that, although we are larger than the communities of Crystal River, Citrus Hills and Pine Ridge, we have far fewer families with incomes greater than $200,000, and lower median incomes of any of those communities.

Yes, we are willing to pay for lawyers when the cause merits it, and doing so has benefited all the aforementioned communities in the case of reversing the rates against Florida Power (for which some may still get money back), and opposing the sale of Florida Water to northern communities who might have had carte blanche to set about any rate they wanted, precluding any influence of this county in establishing water rates if they had successfully "back-doored" the sale.

Our attorneys have played major roles in the favorable resolution of these issues because the Sugarmill Woods Civic Association (SWCA) and its members have supported them. I am proud to have just finished a three-year term with the SWCA and have great admiration for the time and effort they have put into issues affecting the quality of life in this county.

Sugarmill Woods is a community of residents hailing from at least 46 states and 20 foreign countries. They represent a diversity of professional backgrounds, talents and intellectual pursuits. I have witnessed an increased effort by the SWCA and the Sugarmill Woods Women's Club in reaching out to less-fortunate neighbors through donations and scholarships. We care about not only our own quality of life, but those in our county.

Even though we are off in one corner of the county, I resent those who would attempt to isolate us socially and politically by portraying us as self-centered. If we have influence, it is because we make the effort; we will continue to make that effort with the best interests of our community and our county in mind.

If other communities would make similar efforts, Citrus County's influence on issues affecting our future would be even more viable.
-- Bill Ackerman, Sugarmill Woods

Sugarmill Woods shoulders burden

Editor: Over the last couple of days (since the Board of County Commissioners voted to send a letter to the Florida Department of Transportation opposing the construction of the Suncoast Parkway II through Sugarmill Woods), I've read a number of articles in our local papers that seem to imply favoritism toward our community.

In fact, a couple Citrus County residents made reference to "the rich people in Sugarmill Woods only caring about themselves" -- or words to that effect. I did some research using the 2000 census and came up with some interesting facts. But first, I wish to make a couple of points.

Sugarmill Woods has been carrying the load in Citrus County with regard to opposing the sale of Florida Water Services to the Panhandle cities of Gulf Breeze and Milton. It has cost the Sugarmill Woods Civic Association members a nice chunk of change for attorney fees, but we feel it's worth it.

I know Florida Water provides service to many other communities in Citrus County including Pine Ridge. I wonder if they would be willing to share in the legal costs.

The current issue notwithstanding, Sugarmill Woods has shouldered the burden in all rate cases with Florida Water. We were also the one to initiate the reverse rate case against Florida Power resulting in an average monthly savings to all Florida Power customers. In fact, the case was reopened last week -- we think there is still money on the table due Florida Power customers. Again, it is our attorney, paid for by the members of the Sugarmill Woods Civic Association.

As to the issue of the parkway, we as a community took action. The Civic Association wrote letters to government officials at all levels and we encouraged residents to likewise. And you did. Bravo -- I applaud you for your efforts because you opted to get involved.

Now to the census facts. Here is a comparison of several communities and the median incomes, in 2000, for the families: Pine Ridge, 5,490 residents, $46,810; Crystal River, 3,485 residents, $47,250; Citrus Hills, 4,029 residents, $53,222; Sugarmill Woods, 6,409 residents, $46,377.

Isn't that interesting? Now where do "all those rich people live" who only seem to care about themselves?
-- Chuck Baran, Sugarmill Woods

Action should go beyond Sugarmill Woods

Editor: I have been reading a lot of negative comments about Sugarmill Woods in the Citrus Times lately. Apparently many people feel that our community is receiving special treatment from the county because the commissioners recommended not building the Suncoast Parkway through Sugarmill Woods.

If we appear to be getting special treatment, I would like to suggest that maybe it is because we are better organized than other communities. We have an excellent civic association that keeps us informed on issues that affect us and we are urged to let our elected representatives know how we feel.

When the Parkway Authority recently released its preferred corridor recommendations, Skip Christensen, the association president, contacted all members and urged them to write letters of protest. It was suggested that we write to the governor, our state senator, the county commissioners and others. Apparently, many of us did.

Give credit to those of us in Sugarmill Woods who have opposed the parkway all along. We don't want it to go through Sugarmill Woods, or Pine Ridge Estates, or Crystal Oaks, or the Annutteliga Hammock, or the Lecanto Sandhills, or any other place. We don't want it because it isn't needed.

We in Sugarmill Woods let our voices be heard and I urge you folks reading this to do the same.
-- Alan Peterson, Sugarmill Woods

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