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Responses to Kricket's Kafe articles show facts missed

Published February 15, 2004

Re: Support buoys hopes for Kricket's Kafe, story, Feb. 7, and County may end deal with blind vendor, story, Feb. 3.

The St. Petersburg Times' human-interest pieces regarding Kricket's Kafe (in the Pinellas County Courthouse) have generated some emotional response and confusion that require a restatement of important points.

The current concessionaire is not being evicted. The Division of Blind Services has occupied the subject space for about 40 years under a concession lease that expires in June. The fact that the lease has a term expiration reflects a mutual agreement that it is not perpetual and conditions may change. If you don't renew a tenant's lease upon expiration, it is not an eviction. Furthermore, if you were evicting someone, you would not invite him back. After the space is renovated, the county welcomes a proposal from Blind Services, and a Request for Proposals could allow for preferential consideration of this organization.

Facility problems with the space need to be fixed, and the lease expiration is the proper time to do that. Because this tenancy has run for so long, compliance with building codes needs to be brought to current standards. I believe a government body should make every effort to comply with regulations it imposes on the public. Plumbing, electrical and firewall modifications need to be made to this space. The current lessee is not being singled out - this space will not be available to anyone as renovations occur.

The county is trying to offer the best services possible at our public facilities. In the course of reviewing county government concession activities last year, ERA Consulting reported that food/beverage offerings at the Clearwater Courthouse could be improved, while reducing the subsidy to the food service operation. That is one of our organizational goals - improving value to the public while minimizing the tax/fee burden. Yes, assisting the physically challenged and disadvantaged is also an organizational goal, and we would like to meet both of those objectives in this instance.

The government should know the value of public assets, particularly in terms of retail activities. When it comes to making money from public property, the government needs to know even more what market opportunities exist, and those which it may forgo for other public interests. Even if a new agreement is ultimately negotiated with Blind Services, a review of competitive proposals will allow the county to know what it is or is not contributing in the form of public assistance.

Exclusive agreements are not typical. Competitive concessions at county facilities are not new. Food/beverage concessions at the airport terminal, Criminal Justice Center, Fort DeSoto Park and other county facilities have been competitively secured over the years to maximize the public value at these operations.

In summary, we are not insensitive to the opportunity this building space has afforded to persons with disabilities. We look forward to correcting the building's deficiencies and working with the Division of Blind Services and others to improve public services at the Clearwater Courthouse.

-- Stephen M. Spratt, Pinellas County administrator, Clearwater

Teen created Confederate flag flap where none existed

Re: Confederate flag flap at Tarpon Springs High.

A 17-year-old moves into Tarpon Springs and immediately disrupts a county school system. How gleeful this 17-year-old must be getting so much publicity. It is not that she is correct, it is that her opinion, at 17 years of age, creates such havoc, attention, commotion and effect.

No problem existed until she created it.

Her support comes from School Board member Mary Brown, County Commissioner Calvin Harris, and Tarpon Springs City Commissioner David Archie. So, who is making this a race issue?

Don't cave in to a child who gets support because she is black and promotes a race issue. There is a simple solution: Ignore her, suspend her to teach her a lesson, or let this teenager return to where she was happy and stop annoying a peaceful community.

-- Paul Miller, Tarpon Springs

Beach development would have destroyed its beauty

Re: Bluewater beach development now defunct, story, Feb. 8.

Having been a visitor to and a resident of Clearwater Beach for the last 47 years, I have seen this once quiet, relaxing beach town become a sickening cesspool of over-building, excessive traffic and neon glitz. Therefore, nothing made my day like reading that that obscenity, the Bluewater project, was failing.

Those destroyers of natural beauty, developers Sturtevant and Metz and their ilk, ought to take their ideas to Iraq, where they'd be perfectly at home in the company of Halliburton, Bechtel and their ilk.

-- Donald E. Gould, Largo

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[Last modified February 15, 2004, 01:15:45]

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