© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2001
I grew up in Dunedin and was once proud to acknowledge that fact. It was a town where a handshake was a contract, people lived by their word, and they honored those who protected their freedom.
I hope there still are people of that character in Dunedin. The current city government certainly does not live up to city governments of the past and brings shame upon the city I called home.
The city wants to lay claim to land adjoining the VFW that the veterans thought was theirs and have maintained as a park for almost a half century. What a sleazy state of affairs when your own city becomes nothing more than carpetbaggers for the most noble of purposes, a parking lot for baseball games at Grant Field.
The city neglected to tell the veterans about plans almost a year old to pave the land as part of a Senior Center expansion. That is a smokescreen. What the city really wants is the parking revenue from Blue Jays games.
A 1952 city resolution said the city was "agreeable" to conveying the property to the VFW post. An agreement was made by the handshake of honorable men representing both the city and the VFW that the veterans would maintain it, the city would provide water and the land would revert to the city if the VFW ceased to exist.
The city is now saying that because it never lived up to its word, the vets don't legally own the land and the city has a debt to pay off for expanding the baseball park. They should have thought about that debt when they gave away the rights to collect money for Grant Field parking to the Blue Jays. More important, they should have thought about the debt they owe the veterans for serving their country and maintaining "city" land for 50 years. Which debt is more important?
Many of these veterans are in their 70s and 80s. Does the city think these vets are too old to remember a promise? The city reneged on providing promised water for the property several years ago; now it wants to renege on the whole thing.
The honorable thing to do would be for the city to convey this land to the VFW as promised in 1952. Because that is probably unlikely, the least it should do is reaffirm the 1952 commitment and stop plans to pave over a promise not kept.
-- Keith Laursen, Van Astyne, Texas
As a VFW member, I've been reading and concerned about the Veterans Memorial Park, which is just south of the VFW building on Douglas Avenue in Dunedin.
I understand they can't find the title to this 200- by 186-foot property, but the veterans have taken care of it for 49 years and use it for baseball parking. I agree the Senior Center is necessary -- but this is the Veterans Memorial Park, dedicated to the memory of the nine veterans of World War II who gave their lives for our freedom.
The shuffleboard courts will be demolished so the Senior Center will have additional parking there.
In my opinion, the park should be left as is. Some things in life are more important and deserve more respect than do present-day wants.
-- Betty Schaefer, Dunedin
I just got home from my first spring training baseball game of the season. I felt compelled to write this. Beautiful day, nice people and cold beverages. Where was the crowd on such a beautiful day?
Actually, the place was almost as quiet as a morgue. No crowd enthusiasm, no team spirit, and this is in reference to our home team of the Phillies and the home team of Dunedin, the Blue Jays. With such close proximity to Clearwater, you'd at least expect a good crowd.
Knowing the seating capacity of Jack Russell stadium is approximately 6,800 seats, I have to say they were lucky if there were 4,000 people there.
My question is, why do we need a new 8,000-seat stadium in Clearwater, when we can barely fill half of the 6,800 seats in the old one? If memory serves me correctly, it has been only a few years since the city of Clearwater sank a couple of million dollars into renovations at the old stadium. Jack Russell Stadium is a beautiful old ball park. It is a nice fit where it is. It helps the local economy, with parking revenues and convenience store sales and local jobs.
The greed of the Phillies is the key issue here -- the inconvenience of them having to travel that long 15-minute journey from their training facility (Carpenter Complex) on Old Coachman Road to the stadium downtown.
I just hope the good people of Clearwater stand up and say no. Why should we uproot lives and change a venue that can't even fill the stadium we have presently? Don't be bullied by our local government on this issue.
-- Jack J. Gammon, Clearwater
I am writing this letter in hopes it will make people wake up. I witnessed a dog get hit and killed by a truck on a recent afternoon. It staggered, fell down, lifted its head up, then lay down one last time.
This image will be in my mind's eye for a long time. I am outraged at the owner of this animal. It was in a parking lot on Missouri Avenue between Belleair and Lakeview roads running loose. Anyone who gets on Missouri Avenue, even for the first time, can see how very busy it is. Why was that dog loose? Why was he so close to the street?
A little common sense could have prevented this terrible tragedy. I was so upset I was shaking. I had to sit in my car a few minutes before I could drive away. I started crying for the dog.
Please, people, keep your animals on leashes -- always. Let them run free in your yard or a park far from streets. They don't need to be "free" all the time. They enjoy being on a leash with you -- belonging to you. I just hope the owner of that dog has learned a valuable lesson. I pray he has.
-- S.B. Urquhart, Clearwater
Re: Smoothing spring break traffic, Feb. 26.
We would all hope to ease the traffic flow to Clearwater Beach, but residents of Island Estates also need to be considered. Every weekend we cannot exit onto the causeway because cars block the intersection.
It would be helpful to have a sign reminding drivers that it is illegal to block an intersection.
-- Naomi Curry, Clearwater
I would like to thank the voters of Largo for giving me the opportunity to serve as your commissioner for three years. Largo is a community with pride, spirit and perseverance. I would like to thank the many individuals who worked on my campaign for their trust, support and encouragement. It is my honor and privilege to serve the residents of Largo as we move into the future. Thank you for your vote of confidence.
-- Harriet Crozier, Largo city commissioner