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People allowed to run roughshod over parks

Letters to the Editor
Published December 12, 2003

Re: 18-hole course will draw throwing aces, story, Nov. 25.

I was most interested and alarmed by your article regarding John S. Taylor Park in Largo.

Did you know that there are a pair of huge owls (probably great horned owls) that may be nesting in the 10 acres that the Pinellas County Parks Division has designated as a Frisbee golf course? Do you know that this course is directly adjacent to where people of all ages walk all through the day and where children play and seniors walk their dogs?

Did you know that this course came about because a small number of people who belong to a Frisbee club went to the Parks Department and requested it? How can one small group dictate what is going to happen in 10 acres of park property and why was this kept so quiet?

There are very large alligators in Taylor Park. I mention this because you said in your article that "the discs can be bought cheaply from enterprising kids who retrieve the wayward discs from the water." Yipes!

Taylor Park used to have an abundance of wildlife, mostly birds. A few years ago we had four pairs of nesting night herons, five or six great blue herons, numerous egrets and white herons, ospreys and many other species of birds, including an eagle that visited the lake to fish. The night herons are gone; one blue heron remains along with some ducks.

Pinellas County Parks and Pinellas County are systematically and effectively destroying wildlife habitat, not only in John S. Taylor Park, but other Pinellas County parks. They are doing this by destroying the underbrush where birds nest, by the introduction of too many playground areas, and by allowing company picnics and events in small parks. In the case of Taylor Park, the introduction of the huge football field adjacent to the park (on the south), the cross country running meets with hundreds of runners, company picnics with hundreds of people, and the noise and concentration of too many people in a small area is causing a lot of ecological damage.

How can they even think about putting up a course with people throwing Frisbees around where children are playing and all ages of people walk, including seniors? If these discs hit someone, they could do a lot of damage to a child or elderly person.

How can they continue to ruin what used to be a beautiful, quiet park where people could walk, contemplate nature and just enjoy the peace?

How can they think of putting a game with flying Frisbees in a habitat where these rare owls are nesting?

Why don't we utilize some of the Pinellas County school playgrounds for activities that involve Frisbees and other related doings that involve large numbers of people? They are vacant most of the day.

-- F.P. Druyor, Largo

Frisbee course sure bait for lawsuits

Re: 18-hole course will draw throwing aces, story, Nov. 25.

I have the pleasure of visiting Taylor Park two or three times a day each and every day. I see where the Frisbee club is coming to this park. I can also see a future of lawsuits. One adult throwing a disc at a high speed could severely injure a child playing in the adjacent playground, a senior walking, or someone enjoying a bike ride on the path. Are hard hats required to visit Taylor Park?

This is a danger and a lawsuit in the making. You know how people love to file lawsuits. As to retrieving discs from the lake, there goes an arm and a leg! Gators! Duh!

Has anyone researched the ramifications?

-- Phyllis Laurence, Largo

City commissioners unappreciated

Re: Don't underestimate public's intelligence, letter about the upcoming vacancy on the Clearwater City Commission, Dec. 7.

I was sort of shocked when I read Walter Tyc's remarks about the supposedly intelligent members of the Clearwater City Commission who he seemed to think are not quite as gifted as they think they are.

The reason I was shocked is that I had considered sending in a letter complimenting the commissioners for taking such a stand (to seek applicants to fill the temporary vacancy on the commission when Commissioner Whitney Gray leaves), but got busy and never got to it.

I think that Commissioner Bill Jonson is right that they should try to find a replacement, but I also think the rest of the commissioners and the mayor paid a compliment to Whitney Gray, saying her seat wouldn't be easy to fill.

I do not think you need to be a genius to be on the commission, but I do think you need above-average intelligence as well as self-control to handle the varied tasks they encounter for the city. If anyone could fill the seat, they could just check off a few names from the phone book and ask them to join the commission.

Let's face it, they do a terrific job considering all the flak they get from some of the disgruntled members of the community who show up from time to time at the weekly meetings. Many complaints are serious and many are just someone wanting to be heard.

I think the long-running problem with the city's firefighters is certainly an issue anyone would have to study before making a final decision and certainly one that could not be made overnight.

I just feel bad for the members of the commission who work hard and then get such unkind remarks made when they were actually paying a compliment to the commissioner who's leaving. She will be hard to replace.

-- Fran Glaros, Clearwater

Commissioner, mayor not constructive

I read the comments made by Clearwater Commissioner Whitney Gray in the story, Battle between city, firefighters may end, Dec. 7, and was a bit miffed at her belligerent attitude. Who is she to inject such inflammatory remarks? She should stick to the facts of the matter or keep quiet. It is probably for the better that she moves on to other things.

Concerning contract negotiations and fire union President John Lee, she states, "I think it's his way of sabotaging (the agreement) . . . This is the kind of playing around that has dragged this thing out for 18 months." She is quite wrong. She needs to look into her own circle of officials and see that some of them are the stumbling blocks in the process.

The city hiring an (outside labor) attorney was the first hindrance in the process, both communicatively and monetarily; listening to City Manager Bill Horne was the second. To me, neither of these individuals seems to be upstanding in their respective positions.

Mayor Brian Aungst then interjects his views on the matter by saying that "no one wins if we go to impasse." Maybe he should have done something early on in the process to stop it before it started. He and the rest of the commissioners are the ones who are supposed to give direction to Mr. Horne. In my opinion, only Commissioner Bill Jonson seemed to want to at least attempt to be fair.

As for as the decision to leave Gray's commission seat vacant, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what to do should they elect to appoint someone. But speaking against a temporary appointee, Mr. Aungst stated the job "could be overwhelming to someone."

I don't think it should take more than a minute or two to bring a person up to speed on our issue. All Mr. Aungst would have to say is, "We're cheating our firefighters, want to join the fun?" Some may remember that the police signed a three-year contract that included a $500 bonus on top of a 3-4-4 percent raise structure while keeping their step plan. We have been offered a $1,000 bonus with a 0-2-3 percent pay raise. Where is the fairness in that?

Even before Mr. Lee's comments, I already knew how I would be voting, so don't blame him for anything. On the contrary, he should be thanked for his professionalism during these last 18 months of one-sided hijinks and stumbling blocks put up by the city negotiator. Like I've said to some of my fellow firefighters, if it is so great, then why didn't they offer the same thing to Mr. Horne instead of the very lucrative pay and benefit package he received?

-- Craig Cramer, Clearwater firefighter

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