Today's Letters: Costly signs not good Brooker buy

Published August 10, 2007

Costly signs not good Brooker buy

During the July 24 Pinellas County Board of Commissioners meeting, commissioners discussed the cost of exterior signs for Brooker Creek Preserve with Will Davis, who is the director of the county department that manages the preserve. The extravagant price tag of one sign was a whopping $5,500.

Mr. Davis explained that these attractive four-color signs were not traffic "directional signs," but an extension of the interpretative education program at the preserve, similar to what the county purchased for Weedon Island Preserve. When asked for the current project's total cost, Mr. Davis was uncertain. A rough estimate was $140,000!

The fact that public dollars are paying for such lavish signs at a government facility is mind-boggling to me, but to add insult to injury, our commissioners apparently forgot that they previously approved a similar pricey project at a second county facility.

Did they also forget that the county built and equipped two multimillion-dollar education centers on these expansive public lands when they voted to eliminate from their 2008 budget the officers who protect these assets? The specialized off-road sheriff's unit that the county paid to guard these costly assets against vandalism, theft and ecological damage suddenly was no longer funded.

By this one act, county officials undervalued what they've already invested millions of taxpayer dollars for and put these assets at risk. Where will the money come from to repair or replace these assets? Do they even care?

On the one hand, our county commissioners spend millions of public dollars in land acquisitions to protect environmentally sensitive areas and construct nature centers, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in accompanying equipment, furniture and signage for these centers.

Then, on the other hand, they cut essential funding for the sheriff's Environmental Lands Unit, which protects these costly assets in isolated, off-road areas that must be difficult, if not impossible, for regular law enforcement street patrols to monitor.

Is this the responsible way to spend taxpayer money?

Thomas Brookes, Palm Harbor

Patrols essential to our preserves

I am a resident of Pinellas County and enjoy the preserves we have here. Over the years, my family has enjoyed the Pinellas County preserves and appreciates the safety the county has provided within those spaces.

With the news that the Environmental Lands Unit (the Pinellas County Sheriff's patrol group for our preserves) may be drastically reduced, I feel this is the beginning of the falling apart of any current or future environmental management plan we may have. Without necessary enforcement of the established rules and laws, these preserves will become unsafe for visitors and destroyed by those who don't respect the treasures we have here.

The Board of County Commissioners should reject any direction that points to reducing the unit. Surely the county should be able to manage budget cuts without jeopardizing the safety of its citizens.

Dave Howard, Gulfport

Re: Dunedin city manager's 5 percent pay raise

City manager should delay raise

I'm recommending that Dunedin City Manager Rob DiSpirito postpone his raise until such time as the city is in a better financial position. This decision would send a positive message to all city employees and citizens of Dunedin.

Your consideration and empathy in a time of financial uncertainty would shine like a star in the night.

It is the right move at the right time.

Bill Coleman, Dunedin