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    A Times Editorial

    Safety Harbor's slight cannot be overlooked

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001

    Residents of Brooklyn, a small, predominantly black neighborhood just north of downtown Safety Harbor, were upset when CSX Corp. came to town to refurbish worn railroad crossings but did not touch a crossing that leads into Brooklyn.

    Residents later learned that the city had asked CSX not to fix the Brooklyn crossing and another one. However, the crew was instructed to fix a nearby crossing that leads into some of Safety Harbor's priciest neighborhoods.

    City Manager Steve Wylie said the two jobs were crossed off the list because the work would have closed the only way in and out of both a business park and the Brooklyn neighborhood. City officials visited the Packard Court business center to explain why that crossing was not being repaired, but no one explained anything to Brooklyn residents.

    Wylie says CSX will come back to repair the two crossings after the city has time to plan for their closings. But residents of Brooklyn won't hold their breath. They say they are used to being overlooked and having their needs ignored. And there is some evidence that their feelings are warranted.

    One wonders why the repair of the Brooklyn crossing could not have been accomplished a lane at a time, since the crossing is wide enough to allow two cars to pass.

    And why didn't anyone from the city visit Brooklyn to explain why the crossing was not being repaired? Was it because the city thought no one in Brooklyn would notice? Or was it because the reaction of this neighborhood that has no political clout didn't matter?

    The frustration over the crossing that was left in disrepair, with splintered planking and ragged asphalt, is just a symptom of a larger problem. Brooklyn residents feel their neighborhood doesn't get the same attention and resources from local government that other Safety Harbor neighborhoods receive.

    The little neighborhood's streets have neither curbs nor gutters, though most neighborhoods in Safety Harbor have at least one or the other. Why is that?

    And though Brooklyn has asked for years for a second regular vehicle entrance to the neighborhood, the community continues to have to depend on one access via a railroad crossing. A train breakdown or wreck or a car accident easily could block that one crossing.

    The residents of Brooklyn, by virtue of their years of patience if nothing else, deserve some explanations and special attention from their city government right now.

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