Today's Letters: Elation regarding boat slip freeze is short-lived

Published September 23, 2007

Boat slip freeze

I and many others in St. Petersburg were elated to read about the Army Corps of Engineers' action to deny the addition of 700 new boat slips that would further threaten the manatees in Pinellas County.

We were elated because it seemed all of our e-mails, letters and phone calls meant something: The powers that be were finally acting in the true best interest of the people and the environment and not in the best interest of the developers.

I had to laugh when the developers referred to being "blindsided" by this freeze. That is how we as citizens feel more often than not.

Many in our neighborhood were heartened by the fact that perhaps the Army Corps of Engineers will turn its spotlight on Big Bayou, which is our tiny part of Tampa Bay and is a perfect oasis for manatees almost all year long.

There is hope that the corps will help us block the addition of 60 new boat slips proposed by Prospect-Marathon Coquina on the south edge of Big Bayou, which would help bail out their failed condo development on Coquina Key.

The community is clearly more interested in preserving the health and quality of habitat in Big Bayou than it is in either buying or renting their condo units.

How can we justify the sacrifice of something environmentally so precious that is not broken, for the sake of profiteering developers who have gotten caught up in a broken condo market?

Our elation over the boat slip freeze did not last long: Last Sunday's Neighborhood Times had an article about the mooring fields (Tethered to a novel idea) with a photo of Big Bayou strung with abandoned boats and a caption that said, "It's free and legal."

We are starting an activist group: SOBB, Save Our Big Bayou.

Robert Morey, St. Petersburg

Homeless hold back city

As a resident, business owner, property owner and law-abiding citizen in St. Petersburg, I have sat quietly for seven years while the constant parade of homeless people marches back and forth past City Hall or Williams Park in pursuit of free meals.

The downtown City Hall looks like the streets of Bombay, India, with body after body lined up sleeping. Once awake, this mass of humanity proceeds to seek out any convenient place to use for a bathroom - a doorway, behind office buildings.

Is anyone in city government paying attention? Why must tax-paying citizens who are already overtaxed be forced to tolerate this sorry situation?

For the homeless who truly need help, there is help in many of the faith-based organizations, but most of the people who seem to hang in the downtown area appear to be drug users or healthy enough to get a real job. Perhaps these "homeless" could work for the city picking up the trash they leave behind.

This city has such potential, but it will never achieve it as long as it allows itself to be an attractive place for the homeless.

I'm sure this letter will garner great angst from many who sit in their quiet suburban homes with a bleeding heart. If they walk through downtown some night, perhaps they will come away with the same disgust as those of us who call downtown our business home.

Bill Mills, St. Petersburg

Homeless man found slain Sept. 16, story

An accomplice in death?

Charles Cummings was known to many of us as "Leprechaun," a quiet man who stayed to himself and was always peaceful and respectful. Now he is dead, murdered.

This story said, "Little information could be learned about Cummings' life on Saturday." However, we do know some facts. Charles was somebody's son, perhaps somebody's brother or father, and now he is dead.

There are many factors that possibly contributed to Charles' death, but I cannot help but hold the St. Petersburg City Council and Mayor Rick Baker partly responsible for his death. This may sound harsh; it is meant to.

In a crime where there is a murder, the driver of the getaway car may have done nothing more than drive the car but will certainly be charged with being an "accessory to the crime." I see the mayor and the City Council as accessories to this crime.

There once was safety in numbers. First there was a tent city in St. Vincent's De Paul's lot, which the city found illegal and closed, only to open their own "tent city." During the short time that it existed, draconian laws were enacted to prohibit the homeless from sleeping on public access ways, in groups or in tents.

There were promises of new temporary housing for the homeless, and yet today there are more homeless and no more shelters. There is safety in numbers, but numbers of homeless folks are an embarrassment to a city government trying to attract big investors to overpriced condominiums.

The homeless and advocates have a proposal that has been presented to the City Council, mayor and county commissioners that has targeted a space that does not affect residential communities and would move from tents to permanent housing. This has fallen on deaf ears.

Since tent cities have been outlawed in St. Petersburg, the number of serious injuries and rapes of homeless people has skyrocketed, and now another innocent homeless man has been murdered. I can only hope that Charles Cummings' death is not in vain. Mayor Baker and City Council, it is up to you.

Eric Rubin, St. Petersburg

Adopt Shell Key revisions

As a county resident and user of Shell Key Preserve, I strongly support the 2007 Shell Key Preserve Management Plan revisions.

It is critical that the county adopt the county staff's proposed prohibitions on alcohol use in the preserve (whether on land, in a boat or in the water), requiring licenses and permits for camping on the key, expanding the bird preservation area on the east side of the key's midsection, requiring licenses for commercial activities within the preserve boundaries, and prohibiting pets and other domestic animals in the preserve at all times.

I commend the county staff for its Shell Key educational efforts, habitat mapping, and invasive species removal work and encourage the county to continue to support these activities.

Thomas W. Reese, St. Petersburg


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