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Today's Letters: Shuttle to beach would be solution

Letters to the Editor
Published March 13, 2008


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Council right to keep parking off beach side editorial, Feb. 26  

Agreed. After all the effort to create Beach Walk, it would be foolish to block the view and ambience with a parking garage. The appeal of the previous parking arrangement was that people's vehicles and the stuff within were right on the beach. A multilevel garage would not replicate this advantage.

While a parking structure elsewhere would add to the existing beach parking, there already exists under-utilized assets that would more quickly solve the problem with less cost.

There are substantial parking facilities at the Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater and elsewhere downtown that are essentially empty on weekends. The parking below the Harborview Center is also empty on weekdays and on weekends when there are no events. There are a number of beach trolleys that travel extensively with few riders all the time.

Moreover, Americans, not accustomed to mass transit, do not want to take the time to learn to ride the system. As a longtime, part-time resident of Island Estates in Clearwater, I have always just walked rather than learn to ride the trolley. My stepdaughter came here with her friends a number of years ago and, after waiting a long time for the trolley, decided it was easier to learn to drive the car with manual transmission that was kept here.

A Clearwater Beach express starting at the Harborview Center parking lot, making a stop downtown, stopping at the courthouse parking and dropping off near Pier 60 would solve the parking problem. There is ample room in the Pier 60 park to create a drop point without leaving the traffic circle. Pending the creation of this, either the Wings or the marina parking lot could be used.

To be successful, the beach shuttle needs to be frequent, fast and fun. If possible, the emergency vehicle beach access could be used during high traffic periods, making it fast. Music and drawings for prizes could make it fun. It might even be possible to find a corporate sponsor that would advertise on the outside of the vehicles and give away samples to the riders - possibly a soft drink or suntan lotion company.

Such a program would quickly solve the beach parking issue. It would also reduce congestion on the causeway. Finally, all the people using it would do more to rejuvenate downtown Clearwater than all the streetscapes and condos could possibly do.

While the system might be free to jump-start it, it could ultimately be priced in such a way as to become the cash cow for the city that beach parking must be.

Thomas Fitzpatrick, Clearwater

Put a parking garage on beach, Use courthouse to park on weekends, Parking for 1 hour is not sufficient letters, March 2

Take your cars to another beach

After reading all the letters in the Times recently about how inconvenient it is to drive and park on Clearwater Beach, I went back and reread the U.S. Constitution. Nope, as it turns out, you do not have the constitutional right to a parking spot on the beach. Turns out you're on your own there, even if you're a resident.

Now, as much as I enjoy riding my bicycle to the beach and parking for free wherever I want, I do understand that a lot of people around here just won't do that, and that's okay.

Here's my recommendation for the petroleum-addicted: Go someplace else. There are plenty of other beautiful beaches in Pinellas County where you'll find acres of reasonable (if not free) parking. Same sand. Same water.

If all you want to do is drive right up to the beach and not have to walk any more than you have to, there are at least a dozen other beaches around here that will let you do just exactly that. Go there instead. You'll be much happier.

As for me, I'm really looking forward to Beach Walk being totally open and filled with people walking, skating and cycling all around the beach. It will be a welcome change from the mindless bumper-to-bumper traffic. You can get that on any beach.

Chip Haynes, Clearwater

Re: Tarpon city manager is finalist in Arizona story, March 6

City made many accomplishments

I want to thank the St. Petersburg Times for the recent article on me. I do need to make points of clarification.

First, I am not aware of any Tarpon Springs city commissioner stating concerns with my being in Tallahassee last session. There was actually a unanimous vote of the commission to send me there.

In addition, with the strong help of state Sen. Mike Fasano and state Rep. Peter Nehr, we were able to bring back $1.1-million in infrastructure funding.

Secondly, the issue raised about my time off was discussed in September and appeared in your newspaper three months later in an article that was so heavily edited that it didn't make sense. Until that time I had been following the policy and procedures used by all management personnel under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The commission has asked that I follow another process, which is very workable.

Finally, even though we had a succession process in place for the last eight and one-half years for who acts as city manager in my absence, the commission wanted a formal letter of notification. That is workable as well.

If these are viewed by the Times as "controversies," then so be it.

If I ever leave Tarpon Springs, I would like our residents to know at least several accomplishments since I have been here. While the following have never appeared in your paper, we have collectively brought in more than two times the average amount of our general fund budget in outside grants, line item appropriations and state and federal programs since 2000. This is huge and I am not aware of other cities that have done this.

Unlike some other localities, we planned ahead, froze positions a number of times since 1999 and seriously cut spending. We are in great financial shape and poised to withstand the property tax cuts.

Finally the city of Tarpon Springs and our staff have won dozens of international, national, state and regional professional awards in the last nine years. Go to our Web site and click on "Awards and Recognitions" for seven pages of awards. These forms of recognition are very important to residents because awards are selected by our professional peers and grade our services against other highly commendable efforts, in competition with often thousands of other local governments.

Ellen S. Posivach, city manager, Tarpon Springs

Library's friends are cafe's pals too story, March 7, and City officials shouldn't give up on library cafeeditorial, March 7.

A place to read, not to hang out

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but my belief is that a library should be used for what it was originally intended and not be a hangout. My 1985 Second College Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word library as this: "A place in which literary and artistic materials, such as books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets and prints are kept for reading or reference."

Of course, being that my dictionary is somewhat out of date, so might the definition.

In keeping up with the times, libraries have become a good source for Internet access. But do we really need cafes in our libraries? Libraries needn't be a hangout, because hangouts often attract the wrong element of people. Mind you, I am not saying that all people who take delight in a library cafe have bad intentions. And I don't believe that vending machines are necessary either.

My suggestion is to keep it simple. That is to use the Clearwater Main Library or any public library for reference, study, checking out books, Internet access and when finished, simply leave. Is that so unthinkable?

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, 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 March 12, 2008, 21:52:53]


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