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Today's Leters: History of park from ex-mayor

Published May 2, 2007


Re: Development 3, Trees 0 editorial, April 13

Now before everyone gets their tail in a knot so tight it can never be loosened, everyone should look at the facts with a clear mind, then take the time to research a little of the history of the piece of land in question. A rush to judgment is never a good approach.

Fact 1: The Oldsmar City Council and the city staff began the planning phase for this park and its configuration 10 years ago.

Fact 2: Oldsmar's Parks and Recreation Board helped design the park and unanimously approved the design.

Fact 3: Every City Council for the past eight years up until this past election examined the park plans in detail at a number of council meetings and each time approved the plans unanimously. The City Council in the past two years had at least two public hearings examining the final park plans.

Fact 4: Three months ago, the plans for this park were brought back to the council for another discussion, that time concerning a possible dog walk alongside the redesigned road and parking area that is to be constructed where the trees were taken down. Again, the dog walk was approved by a 5-0 vote.

A sentence under the photo of the bulldozer clearing the trees is a little silly. I quote: "The City Council was stunned to learn the area has protected wildlife."

Everyone should know that! All of that land area has wildlife and should be protected. I can't imagine why anyone would be stunned. The past councils knew the value of preserving that land. The city partnered with the state and the county many years ago to create the Mobbly Bay Preserve. Millions of dollars have been spent to create a fabulous wildlife refuge.

In 1996 this particular portion of land (shown in the picture), about 13 acres including the beach area, was privately owned and not in the city. The owner was asking more than a million dollars for it and developers were considering building large condos over which the city would have no control. The condos could have been five stories tall. And guess what? All of the trees would have been cut down.

I went to the city planner and city manager and suggested that the city try to partner with the county and buy the 13 acres to preserve as a park. City Manager Bruce Haddock along with the rest of the City Council and the county staff worked together and the rest of the story is history. The land was purchased for a park, Oldsmar annexed the land, a whole bunch of trees were saved and the wildlife will never have to put up with condos.

Also, the folks along Shore Drive E will not have to tolerate condo traffic, plus they will have a wonderful park to enjoy, a place to walk their dogs and a beautiful beach to play on.

Trees are a very important part of all of our lives and I know we want to save as many as possible, but to lose a few trees to save hundreds of trees made a lot of sense to me.

Jerry Beverland,

former mayor of Oldsmar

Re: A tax break stays on the shelf story, April 29

Consider our most vulnerable

I strongly support the increased homestead exemption for low-income seniors. In the Oldsmar City Council meeting on April 17, I asked the rest of the council to consider supporting it. As a result, a special session of the City Council was called so that we could ensure the exemption could be approved by the state deadline.

I will do everything in my power to ensure that in Oldsmar, this relief is passed for our low-income seniors.

The article mentioned that the Oldsmar City Council was concerned about the $13, 000 in yearly revenue we would lose if we approve the additional homestead exemption for low-income seniors. As a fiscal conservative, I believe we need to watch the city's budget carefully.

However, that is no excuse for denying this tax relief for seniors in our community who make less than $23, 414 a year. Oldsmar's tax revenue has doubled in the past several years, and we have made much-needed improvements to city infrastructure and services with that inflow. Nonetheless, we need to be ready to return some of the surplus to our taxpayers, especially the most needy and vulnerable among us.

Greg Rublee, Oldsmar City Council member

Re: Any more excuses to delay MLK project? editorial, April 29

Where's spine of city leaders?

Largo, the "City of Progress"? Perhaps in name only, because you sure could fool me. My choice of adjectives to describe the city would be more like "backward" and "bigoted."

It appears as though the bigger the deal the city makes over a project to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, the smaller the chances of it ever being realized.

I would also think that Rodney Woods, Largo's first black commissioner, would be more insistent, especially since the project is four years in the making. If it were not for trailblazers like King, Rosa Parks and other prominent black leaders, Woods may have never had a chance of becoming a city commissioner. In fact, he and other African-Americans might still be sitting in the back of the bus.

If I were Woods, I certainly wouldn't take the MLK project sitting down. There is no time like the present to stand up and fight for your rights.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

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You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

[Last modified May 1, 2007, 23:54:11]

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