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Tarpon should keep pavilion as priority

A Times Editorial
Published August 2, 2006


There is nothing like listening to live music on a sandy beach while you watch a beautiful sunset.

Unless you get all settled in your beach chair and a sprinkle of rain ends the show because the band knows that moisture and electrical equipment don't mix.

Bummer.

Some Tarpon Springs residents who love the concert series on Sunset Beach every summer don't want a little rain to halt the show - or to require, as it did recently, that the band jam into a crowded, low-roofed picnic shelter to keep playing. A volunteer group has raised $15,000 toward building a small concert pavilion at Sunset Beach so the musicians will be protected from rain or broiling sun.

However, that isn't nearly enough money to build the structure, especially in view of the rising cost of building materials.

So the Tarpon Springs City Commission agreed tentatively last week to add $50,000 to the next fiscal year's budget to build a proper venue for the concerts. A preliminary rendering by a local architect shows an open structure with a low stage and a pitched roof, though that design could be modified.

Commissioners are not finished making budget decisions, and the final budget will not be approved until September. Between now and then, commissioners could decide that some other project deserves higher priority on the funding list.

Some residents might even object to an allocation of funds for an entertainment project, when Tarpon Springs has streets that need repairing and water lines that need to be replaced, to mention only a couple of infrastructure issues in Pinellas' oldest city.

However, a city that wants to maintain a high quality of life needs to devote some revenue to amenities like parks and recreational facilities. It might be easier to find that money now, while soaring property values are funneling lots of property tax dollars into the city treasury.

What would life be like in Pinellas without its parks, its public beaches, its walking trails, its recreation centers, its venues for plays and concerts? Most were built with tax dollars (often in combination with grants or donor dollars) by local governments that knew future residents would need and appreciate those amenities nearby.

Tarpon Springs commissioners apparently understand that too and hopefully will be able to keep the $50,000 in the budget for making future concerts more comfortable on Sunset Beach.

[Last modified August 2, 2006, 07:26:12]


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