tampabay.com

Today's Letters: Save preserve, use schoolyards

By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published May 14, 2007


Re: Ball fields proposed for Brooker Creek Preserve

The recent information being passed along by your newspaper and the county commissioners is very disturbing.

There is a lot of land available in Pinellas County for use by our youth organizations. High schools remain like graveyards on the weekend. These are facilities already in place, built and paid for by taxpayer dollars. Why are we not using every elementary school, middle school, and high school playing field for these youth activities on the weekend?

It would cost no more money than what is being proposed; in fact, it would cost less as you would not have to fund the new stadiums, bleachers, parking, etc.

Why is it that residents of Pinellas County have to think for our commissioners? Isn't that what they are paid for? This is a typical situation where the government spends taxpayer dollars and they do not think outside the box.

I hope County Commissioner Susan Latvala keeps her day job, because her narrow-minded thinking will author her fate.

Please keep this in the public's eye. I live on the edge of the preserve in Crescent Oaks. This is an absolutely wonderful place to reside. With the proposals being made, my peaceful mornings are at risk. Also at risk are the many wildlife species that make Brooker Creek Preserve their home.

Are the commissioners not watching TV and understanding how taking down thousands of trees affects the environment, or do they simply not care?

The residents of North Pinellas County need your assistance in keeping our community a wonderful place to live.

Steve Prevot, East Lake

Re: Latest proposal carves out land in preserve story, May 4

Measure puts preserve in peril

What this article is not reporting is the very important fact that the 1, 332 acres south of Keystone Road currently in the Brooker Creek Preserve are earmarked for "potential wellfield production" on the map that accompanied the county officials' proposal to change the integrity of the preserve. This purpose was also identified during the oral presentation at the County Commission work session.

This acreage is dotted with existing well heads that are currently not used but potentially could be in the future.

Have we forgotten that just a few months ago, pumping from three well heads in the south portion of the preserve was being proposed for irrigating private golf courses, clay tennis courts and clubhouse landscaping at East Lake Woodlands? I believe County Administrator Steve Spratt announced that the county withdrew its permit application to the Southwest Florida Water Management District because of public perception and pressure. If this area is now removed from the preserve according to the proposed plan, what will stop similar permit applications that put the preserve wetlands in peril?

So many, both individually and grouped, have voiced their support for Brooker Creek Preserve, and yet Commissioner Susan Latvala reduces these efforts to "small" and therefore devalues them.

On behalf of my family and the future of our children's children, I recognize and thank the following organizations and individuals for their steadfast support of our precious environment. You count in my book:

Suncoast Sierra Club, Pinellas chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, St. Petersburg Audubon, Clearwater Audubon, League of Women Voters, Crescent Oaks neighborhood, Equestrian Partners with Brooker Creek Preserve, more than 2, 000 individual petitioners, Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve and the Environmental Science Forum.

In addition, many individuals have voiced their support and written the Board of County Commissioners to protect the preserve. Everyone counts!

Cheiri Cheiranthus, Tarpon Springs

Re: Pasco neighbors won't play along story, May 10

Officials ignore residents' views

I read the article regarding the Pinellas County commissioners' plans for placement of ball fields and the water blending facility in the Brooker Creek Preserve. It appears the commissioners all feel they know what's best for us poor Pinellas citizens, whether we realize it or not.

Regarding ball fields, I totally agree with the Fox Hollow resident's statement about noise drifting some distance. I used to enjoy the quiet solitude of nature at John Taylor Park until the ball fields in a neighboring residential area meant listening to the strident, overpowering noise of a public address system and a lot of screaming. All sounds of nature are drowned out while a game is under way.

With respect to the lack of locations for a new water blending plant, here's a novel idea: Why not put it on the property where the current Keller blending plant sits? If the pumps are 50 years old, replace them! If the whole plant needs to be razed, fine, do it. Put a new plant on the same site! Or would that frustrate the commissioners' need to obliterate more of what's left of natural Pinellas County?

Kathleen Finnerty, Largo

Ditch a sign of officials' excess

It seems that our county taxes could be put to better use than digging preventative drainage ditches that are not needed in neighborhoods. This program has been going on since November 2006.

As a Pinellas County taxpayer, I was very angered recently when I came home and found a large ditch had been dug in our yard. Yes, it is in the county's easement and yes, they do have the right, but it was sod that we had planted, cut and fertilized for years as a part of our yard. And what was really upsetting was that we had not even been notified that this was going to occur and there was no drainage problem to begin with!

Some of our neighbors experienced the same, along with their sprinkler systems being cut, and then they had to be repaired - more county taxes spent. Not only was good, established sod removed along with the dirt and hauled off, but then because it was dug too deep and we complained, they came back to fill it in (not like it originally was, though) and then the county still has to pay someone to put new sod down and send a truck two times a week to water it. With our drought right now, is it feasible to use excess water?

Let's see, you pay one crew with three men and three trucks and a backhoe to take it up, and one crew to put topsoil back down, and then after paying for a sod company to come out and replant, to have a driver and a truck to water it. Why couldn't the same crew remove existing sod, dig the trench somewhat deeper with a shovel rather than a backhoe, and then replace it with the same sod and dirt, saving the county thousands of dollars?

And then, there were two people that had to come out to measure for the amount of sod needed, one from the county and one from the sod company.

The drainage ditch across from us is stopped up and that one was not even addressed. There was no study done that I know of to see if our neighborhood even had a drainage problem in the first place.

One of our other concerns was if a child fell into it and was hurt, who then would be responsible, the county or us?

Fortunately, my two neighbors to the north were spared due to our complaints. Their concerns would have been for breaking their sprinkler system and invisible dog fence as well as destroying their yard. I could have at least used the sod that was dug up and hauled away for other areas in my yard. What a waste of a lot of resources!

Rather than just digging in every neighborhood, perhaps the county could respond to those residents who do have valid drainage problems.

Muriel Murphy, East Lake

Thanks go out to 911 responders

After the bad press I've seen about 911 calls and slow response times, I feel that the other side needs to be shown.

My husband had a medical emergency a week ago, and we had an amazingly quick response time that possibly saved his life.

As soon as I let the 911 operator know what happened, I was assured someone was on the way. She handled everything in a professional yet friendly and reassuring manner. Sunstar and the East Lake Fire and Rescue personnel arrived very quickly, and they continued to provide the care my husband needed.

Once they got to Mease Countryside Hospital, the emergency people passed him off to some of the best hospital staff in the country. I feel fortunate to have such great medical services so close by.

Debby Mayne, Palm Harbor

Your voice counts

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