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  • When will we stop paving over Pinellas County?
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    Letters to the Editors

    When will we stop paving over Pinellas County?

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 8, 2001


    Pinellas drivers, don't you just love driving on U.S. 19? Isn't it exciting to wait in long lines, creeping past demolished vehicles with injured people strewn on the roadway? Wouldn't it be even more exciting to have a large retail complex feeding even more traffic in the "Death Valley" portion between Alderman and Klosterman roads?

    Well, if Commercial Development Associates has its way, it will take the last piece of pristine property, now occupied by Cypress Pointe campground, and turn it into a paved parking lot with a Target store and a large home improvement center. Who needs these old oak and cypress trees? Who needs those noisy birds and that scenic lakefront?

    Do we really need another place to buy a new T-shirt and another 2 by 4?

    The big question is, does the County Commission have the guts to deny the zoning change or are they going to let us continue to tumble asphalt over appetite toward a totally paved-over Pinellas County?
    -- Fred Cload, Palm Harbor

    Bad traffic mess about to get worse

    For years we've been plagued by the traffic conditions on U.S. 19. Our subdivision, The Woods, is approximately 15 years old and in that time we've been experiencing this-year-worse-than-the-last traffic.

    The entrance to our subdivision is just opposite the entrance to Anderson Park on Lake Tarpon, between the traffic lights at Klosterman Road and Tarpon Avenue. We've witnessed many auto and auto/boat accidents, several of them fatal. We've attempted, by appealing to the county and the state Department of Transportation on several occasions, to secure a traffic light or a slow-down blinker because of the high volume of in-and-out boat traffic into Anderson Park, but to no avail.

    How ironic, at a time when $10-million is being made available to create safer traffic conditions from St. Petersburg north on U.S. 19 to the Pasco County line, comes now a proposal to rezone some 38 acres from commercial recreation (CR) to commercial (CP-1) to make room for a large Target store and a home improvement store.

    All this would be right across from Muvico, a movie theater complex that generates high traffic volume. Add to that the soon-to-be-built Hampton Inn, just north of Klosterman Road. Left turns out of our subdivisions along the above-mentioned areas are impossible, with right turns taking as long as 10 to 12 minutes to get into the flow of traffic, assuming (one has) the courage to do so.

    Accordingly, the residents of The Woods community are adamant in their appeal to deny the proposal, to avert Death Valley becoming any worse than its current, barely tolerable condition. To approve the proposed zoning change would be the same as nullifying the effect of the $10-million appropriation to improve safety along U.S. 19.
    -- Joseph R. La Rocca, president The Woods at Anderson Park Homeowners Association, Tarpon Springs

    Commercial development overruns us

    Re: RV park denizens face an uprooting, story, April 26.

    Is another golden goose nearing the chopping block?

    Another Delaware corporation is applying for a change in zoning for 38.7 acres of land bordering the west shore of Lake Tarpon. A change in zoning would allow a commercial development corporation to pursue plans for use of the land. Large retail establishments such as Target and a home improvement store would replace the present Cypress Pointe RV Park and Campground, which is home to many full-time and six-month residents who place relatively few demands on county services.

    Which weighed most heavily in your decision to settle in Pinellas County -- the proximity of commercial services or the proximity of beaches, lakes, parks, the Pinellas Trail?

    The story in your paper depicted the plight of the residents. I would like to add that we have been and are good stewards of the land and water. Our average population density is low and thus our total use of water and electric power resources is small.

    In consideration of mounting water shortages, the reality of increasing demands on electric power and the very real day-to-day reality of the dangers and frustrations of driving U.S. 19 N, I think that a change in zoning at this time represents a very poor use of this Lake Tarpon property.

    I am urging the County Commission and all whose votes will ultimately determine the future direction of Pinellas County to think long and hard before they vote for zoning changes that might ultimately destroy the very things that cause people to want to settle here. Please don't allow this golden goose to be destroyed!
    -- Deborah M. Doran, Ozona

    Just let common sense rule

    Re: Reason should rule Keene Road decision, editorial, May 2.

    Common sense should rule. This is a road through a built-out neighborhood, not an interstate on the way to Disney World. We are homes and trees and lawns and kids and dogs and bikes and skates and people. People who walk -- a lot.

    Common sense will tell you if there is no road, there is no traffic. So what traffic is being counted? Projected traffic? What if gas goes to $3 a gallon?

    Common sense will show that as the project is drawn, there are more than six lanes. More like nine: three lanes north, three lanes south, plus turn lanes and a median, and two bike lanes.

    Common sense will tell you that here comes a bottleneck. Two lanes go into three, then back into two. And with today's selfish drivers, having lunch with a cell phone glued to one ear as they drive, you know they will slow down to let Speedy from Lane 3 cut into Lane 2. Not any time soon.

    Common sense will tell you the proper place to go with our problem is the Clearwater City Commission, especially because the county was unresponsive to our concerns.

    Finally, where is it written that all the grass shall be covered with cement?
    -- B.J. Walsco, Clearwater

    School volunteer mom's success story

    All I hear lately is: The trouble with education is . . .

    Let me tell you my story. I had a daughter failing at Clearwater High School and I did everything to motivate her. One day I went to see her assistant principal. The office was bustling with kids and teachers -- everyone was so busy.

    I thought, I wonder if they could use some help? I couldn't believe how welcome they all made me feel. I worked in the assistant principal's office and it was a busy place and it didn't take long for me to realize that being there was the best thing I could do for my daughter. She would come down for lunch money or a ride home or just to make sure I was there. I could also keep an eye on her attendance and grades.

    The staff at Clearwater High always made me feel as though I was an important part of their team, and the principal, Nick Grasso, and all the assistant principals were so helpful and they all work so hard for those kids.

    Well, there is a point to this story. My daughter was so excited she couldn't even put the key in the door yesterday and as I opened the door, she showed me her report card. Through all her hard work and knowing I was not willing to give up and neither was the staff at Clearwater High, she made the honor roll for the first time since fifth grade.

    She came home from her jog today and made me get in the car to "ride by the school," she said. As we rode past the school I looked up and read NANCY CROUCH, volunteer of the month! I was happy but the look on her face touched my heart.

    Volunteering one hour or 30 hours, it doesn't matter. When your child knows you are trying, they try even harder.
    -- Nancy Sweadner-Crouch, Clearwater

    Belleair, Largo could swap problems

    Re: Belleair displaced businesses.

    Belleair and Largo seem to have like problems, only at opposites. Belleair wants to get rid of small plaza businesses to make room for a biggie. And Largo wants to attract small, profitable operations exactly like the ones Belleair is eliminating.

    It would be nice if both city governments cooperated to see if those small business owners could have relief to relocate.
    -- Donald Kreis, Largo

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