Today's Letters: Beaches should retain character

Published September 2, 2007

Board favors larger hotels Aug. 22, story

As a resident of Madeira Beach, I am very disturbed about the proposal to increase the density limitations for hotels. I drive along Gulf Boulevard every day, and I see all the "Vacancy" signs in front of the existing hotels along the beaches. If current structures are demolished to make room for bigger, denser, higher hotels, the developers will make lots of money, but we residents and the tenacious businesses that remain here will just have more empty hotel rooms to add to the empty condos that the greedy "flippers" are now unable to resell.

Of course, a change in density limitations will surely force the remaining low-density property owners to sell because their property taxes will skyrocket, as you will have made their properties more valuable under Florida's "highest and best use" tax appraisal requirements.

Instead of helping our local property owners, it seems more like the County Commission will, in effect, be signing their eviction notices. I've seen nothing to indicate what impact the increased development will have on county services and infrastructure, but surely there will be an impact.

Instead of turning the entire Pinellas coastline into an extension of Clearwater high-rises and instead of making our beautiful coastline look just like overdeveloped South Florida, why not look for some creative solutions that will allow the Pinellas beaches to maintain their unique character?

That's what attracted me here, and it saddens me to discover that my commissioners are so ready to sacrifice that unique character for the sake of putting money in developers' pockets. Instead of building more boxes, why not think outside the box to come up with solutions that will benefit the local businesses and homeowners?

Robin Warren, Madeira Beach

Keep toll fees level

If Florida and Gov. Charlie Crist fail to keep control of the Bayway toll fees and the fees to Fort De Soto Park so that they can be maintained at a reasonable level, they will be doing a massive disservice to the residents of Isla Del Sol, Tierra Verde and much of St. Pete Beach.

Many of the residents are retired or seasonal and already pay some of the highest property taxes in the county. The city and county now supply minimal services to this area in return for the high tax rate.

Seasonal property owners and others have been attempting to sell their properties at reduced rates.

Property values (and property taxes) have fallen substantially in the past two years and will continue to do so unless these situations are addressed in the near future.

Based on my recent property tax estimate, my "reduction" in taxes for 2008 will amount to about $150 if the budgets don't change.

Unfortunately, I foresee a continuing exodus from this area. It is becoming unaffordable to some.

James J. Doheny, St. Petersburg

No inhibitions at exhibitionAug. 25, story

Art requires decency

Freedom is one thing. License is quite another. Freedom is one thing we cherish in America, but license is the degradation of freedom, which can corrupt.

In the Bible (Isaiah 5:20) we find the following passage, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil ... " Decency in portraying the human body is, on the one hand, art; stimulating sexual desires is on the opposite pole and can lead to all kinds of mischief.

Hunt Roberts, Crystal River

Decadence precedes fall Aug. 29, letter

Erotica a partner of art

Long before there were churches to serve as "bastions of morality," man was expressing himself through his art, and erotica has been part of it since the beginning.

The reason is that sex has been with us as long as there has been man. Indeed, none of us would be here were it not for sex.

If the Catholic Church wants to protect society from decadence, it should start within its own ranks.

Janet Graber, St. Petersburg

Looper fares too low

I'm concerned about the thoroughness with which the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board of directors pursues reductions in PSTA's expenditures on behalf of the riders and citizens of Pinellas County.

I am particularly bothered about the PSTA funds allotted to the St. Petersburg Looper Downtown Trolley. The PSTA staff recommended that this subsidy funding for St. Petersburg be eliminated from the PSTA budget, and I agree with that recommendation.

As a solution to the problem, I suggest an increase in the fare, which is now 25 cents for those without Medicare privileges and 10 cents for those with Medicare privileges.

Those fares are simply too low for a ride on which people are encouraged to spend a half hour seeing all the stops. Additionally, I suggest that the stakeholders, the businesses who support the Looper, increase their contributions to its operational support.

The PSTA staff has projected revenues based upon its knowledge and experience. Second-guessing these projections is not a good idea. Wishing for more income when it cannot be reasonably certain to come is foolish.

Conservative revenue projections are a responsible way for any public entity to do business. The operative phrase for the board of directors is: fiduciary responsibility on behalf of all of the riders and citizens of Pinellas County.

Bert Connelly, St. Petersburg

Thank you to pool staff

I just wanted to take a moment to send a very sincere thank you to the entire staff at the Walter Fuller Pool.

Primarily the staff is made up of high school and college kids, and without a doubt they are the most respectful and helpful kids I've encountered in the service community.

I use the pool daily with the Swim to Stay Fit Program and enjoy the daily opportunity.

Not only are they just "nice kids," but they also keep a clean and refreshing pool for the community to enjoy. I just wanted to publicly thank them for all of their efforts.

Sandra Guida, St. Petersburg


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