Today's Letters: Many suffer from overdevelopment
By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published April 30, 2007
Don't underestimate the value of development April 23, letter
The letter writer is absolutely correct in stating that a "complete moratorium" on all types of construction would be catastrophic for Florida. Development is necessary to keep up with changing times, and it's good for the state economy, providing jobs, tax revenue and business growth. However, there is a point where it becomes overdevelopment, which Florida continues to face.
Our pristine lands are in severe jeopardy. Wildlife species are being driven out of their natural habitats and put on the road to extinction. Our water supply is being increasingly put in harm's way, and, most important, the average- and low-income workers and retirees on fixed incomes are being evicted from their affordable mobile home parks or apartments as they are being gobbled up by developers.
Real estate values and property taxes for existing homes have skyrocketed to keep pace with development of new housing. Who is benefiting from this surge of development in Florida? Surely not the majority of substandard wage earners living here the year round or people who had visions of retiring here on fixed incomes!
I am not against development, but I am dead-set against the kind of development that is taking place in Florida and the effect it is having on its average working citizens and retirees who are trying to sustain an affordable lifestyle for themselves and their families.
Florida has become a bonanza for developers and investors at the expense of people who need to live and work here, people who are needed in order for this state to survive. Development is one thing. Overdevelopment is another!
Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City
Don't underestimate the value of development April 23, letter
It can't go on forever
The letter writer suggests that our economy would take a catastrophic hit if we were to curtail our development activities. This view is very short-sighted. No economy can be reliant on new construction indefinitely. We lose our open space and our quality of life, and our environment is strained.
As for quality of life, does anyone really want another generic "(insert cheesy name here) Towne Centre" with the same restaurants, shops and stores? Does anyone like spending more and more time in traffic?
As development sprawls farther and farther from urban centers, infrastructure costs (roadways, utilities, schools) rise exponentially. These increased costs are clearly not covered by the new development. If they were, we wouldn't all be subject to so many community-based inconveniences.
An economy cannot be primarily based on construction of a limited resource for very long. We are forfeiting our future with this model. That's not rocket science - it's obvious. We need to voluntarily begin making the transition toward a new economic model before we are forced to do so.
Dave Sumpter, conservation chair, Tampa Audubon Society, Wesley Chapel
Curbside recycling makes good sense
As a resident of the Tampa Bay area and an active member of the Recycle Florida Today organization, I am embarrassed that a city the size of St. Petersburg does not have a curbside recycling program. While cities and counties across the country are joining forces to figure out how to combat global climate change, the city of St. Petersburg is still struggling to make curbside recycling easy and affordable.
Your April 22 article Let's find the gaps ... and fill them gives many reasons as to why the city does not have a curbside recycling program, and there are many that are valid. However, when it comes to community programs such as this, it is critical to have the cooperation and participation of residents to ensure affordability. It is simple math. The more we recycle, the less the cost to pick up and process the materials.
Both Tampa and Clearwater have curbside recycling, as do neighboring communities and counties. In fact, Pasco County recently launched a pilot program that determined that making curbside recycling as convenient for residents as possible really is the answer. Forcing residents to pay extra for service or to go out of their way to access containers, will lessen participation, driving up cost.
We must all speak out! More of us are taking an interest in the environment and we must demand that our leaders do the same.
Curbside recycling is the easiest and most economical way to lessen the environmental impact we all have on this Earth. The question shouldn't be: How can the city afford a recycling program? It should be: Can the city of St. Petersburg afford not to?
Lena Davie, Tampa
For manatees' sake, don't relax vigilance April 15, editorial
The manatee's status
I am writing in response to your editorial coverage about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recommendation to upgrade the manatee's condition under the Endangered Species Act from "endangered" to "threatened." I want to make sure your readers are not misled on two points related to the manatee's future protection and who actually made this decision.
First, the recommendation announced this month relies on the best available science and will not change the strong protection currently afforded manatees under the ESA and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The recommendation simply acknowledges the positive progress we've made working together with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other partners to bolster the manatee population and ultimately recover this charismatic species. A formal proposal to upgrade the manatee's status will follow at a later date and include an opportunity for citizens and organizations to comment.
Second, this status review I signed is the result of solid work done by our career biologists in Florida and the Caribbean with state-of-the-art research from the U.S. Geological Survey among others. No one in the administration had any role in shaping this five-year review's recommendation.
We still have work to do in addressing threats to the manatee that focus on watercraft collisions and available warm water habitat. In fact, I am excited about this status review's conclusions and optimistic about the manatee's future. Momentum is with us and that is important as we work toward recovery.
Sam Hamilton, Southeast regional director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta
Artist hiding in plain sight April 16, David Shribman column
No place to fiddle
I don't know if I missed the point or if David Shribman had no point.
The thesis of his article seemed to be that we are too busy in our daily lives to pay attention to a talented artist playing a violin in a subway station. So?
Years ago, I always took the subway in Boston to attend court as a trial lawyer. I parked my car at the MBTA lot in Revere, walked hurriedly to the MBTA Wonderland station across the street, and hoped I would make the train that was already in the station.
I stood up on the train, as there were usually no seats. After several stations it traveled under Boston Harbor and I finally got to the station where I switched to the subway. It was rush, rush, rush. I would often have to wait for the next car, as the one at the stop was already full.
As I rushed through the station, I would usually see a guitarist or violinist playing, but I paid no attention. I was rushing to make the next car, to get to court with enough time to speak to my witnesses and review my notes before trial. I was always in a crowd of subway passengers who, like me, were rushing to get to work on time.
There is a time and place in life to enjoy its wonders and pleasures. It's not in a crammed subway station. To imply that we are callous and uncultured for failure to pay attention to a talented violinist at a subway stop is ridiculous.
Thomas D. Dolan, New Port Richey
Overnighter is no party April 21, story
The Carrollwood students who spent the night sleeping outdoors so they could learn by doing did a courageous thing, and I am sure they did not compare it to camping. They learned a lesson that will stay with them a long time.
Maybe our city officials should spend a night under the stars in cardboard boxes and then maybe they could learn something - mainly that affordable housing is not affordable to the people who do live on the ground.
In years gone by we had shanty towns where there were affordable places to stay. But we disposed of them, wanting to upgrade our communities. All well and good, but when we upgrade something we should be sure everyone is on board before we do.
Hartley Steeves, Tampa