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Letters to the Editors

Hernando Beach is changing

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2000


Editor: Re: Group had bothered area business owners, community in the past, May 5 letter to the editor:

An unfortunate aspect of widely spread and frequently repeated misinformation is that people will begin to believe and quote the "facts" without analysis of either the source or the validity of the information. A recent letter to the editor yet again paints a picture of some homeowners in Hernando Beach as weird folk, to say the least, and possibly delusional.

What we are seeing on the beach is a phenomenon common to areas that undergo rapid demographic changes. For years, Hernando Beach was home to mostly blue-collar retirees who enjoyed easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, ridiculously low tax rates, little or no code enforcement and a succession of "good old boy" commissioners who kept the old folk happy by ignoring them and prospered by taking care of the vested interests.

On the rare occasion that a child was sighted, it was safe to assume the kid was someone's grandchild who would soon return north and would not constitute a threat of increased taxation needed to build a school for his education. In general, fear of tax increases weighed more heavily with the populace than the prospect of diminishing property values.

There has been over the past few years a gradual migration of younger and in many cases more prosperous residents. Many of these new homeowners still have active careers that generally involve working either in the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater areas, the northern suburbs of Orlando, migration to other areas of Florida or, in my case, travel to whatever assignment I have at the time.

On my section of Eagle Nest Drive, the last three homes built on Minnow Creek are owned by young people with small children. With the opening of the new expressway, this gradual migration will become a latter-day "gold rush."

Any sociologist will immediately recognize the probability of trouble when these two cultures collide. Newer residents are less concerned with increases in tax rates and more concerned with improved education and recreation facilities, improved and consistent code enforcement, increased property values and consistent, adequate representation of the interests of homeowners by our elected representatives.

A basic component of the misrepresentations being circulated is that this group of new residents, all concerned homeowners, is a small group of ignorant hotheads being led like automatons by unnamed persons (of the Commissioner Paul Sullivan clan) to cause some ultimate but non-described disaster for Hernando Beach. It is true that we did allow the traditional property owners association to be hijacked by a group led partially by people who do not live in Hernando Beach but do have vested interests to protect. Most of us have careers to manage or kids to raise and don't have the time or inclination to meet at the deli to formulate plans to wipe out unwelcome newcomers and return the beach to the bucolic (cheap) paradise they recall.

Enough is enough! The new organization that is being formed is open to any owner of a residence on Hernando Beach. We are dedicated to the formation of a group that will, at meetings, adhere strictly to Robert's Rules of Order, will strive to work with the county to improve what is now inconsistent and sometimes non-existent code enforcement and work with all homeowners to improve the overall quality of life on the beach.

The rapidly changing demographics of our county will result in some very hard times for some of our oldest and most valued residents. Already, increases in taxes with concomitant increases in air, wind and regular insurance have caused friends to relocate to Spring Hill or elsewhere. We will hope that, with the intellectual capital available in the new homeowners association, we may be able to formulate some plans that will help to mitigate the certain adverse effects of our home-grown gentrification, and perhaps we can work with the county to plan for possible grants or other venues that can be dedicated to this goal.
-- Ellen Mattingly, Hernando Beach

Inflammatory rhetoric doesn't help

Editor: Re: Group had bothered area business owners, community in the past, May 5 letter to the editor from David Ewasick:

It is of concern that the letter in opposition to the new Homeowners Alliance of Hernando Beach used inappropriate words and phrases such as "attacked," "demeaned," "divided the community," "turned off most of the peace-loving members of the community," "causing all this trouble," "big lie," etc.

Such polarizing rhetoric is not in the best interest of the community. May we urge the supporters of the commercial seafood industry to please rein in their hostility and discuss the issues in terms of facts?

The Homeowners Alliance was born because the homeowners who value the equity in their homes and quality of life, and understand the issues, feel that the current leadership of the Hernando Beach Property Owners Association does not presently represent the rightful interests of the homeowner.

The commercial seafood industry is strongly represented by the Coastal Hernando Business Association, the Marine Industry Council and now a new political action committee. That's three active, well-financed and vocal organizations, all with what appears to be near identical bottom-line goals in favor of the continued intrusive, illegal docking of commercial seafood industry boats in the residential neighborhoods of Hernando Beach. They also seem to be supporting the expansion of heavy marine zoning along Shoal Line Boulevard.

The Homeowners Alliance was formed at the request of a large group of concerned homeowners because it is evident the homeowners need at least one unified voice to present the facts to the County Commission and residents in other areas of the county.

We hope future dialogue from both sides will refrain from further inflammatory statements and try to stick to the facts.
-- Sandra Hoyt, Hernando Beach

Planned carwash would break U.S. law

Editor: Re: Carwash to feature more buff than usual, May 7 Hernando Times:

I am shocked and appalled at the plan of Job Levesque to exploit, illegally discriminate and insult the intelligence of women at a new carwash in Hernando County.

His plan to have women dressed in bikinis wash and dry cars is demeaning and degrading, especially in light of the exorbitant price he plans to charge. If a woman wants to make a living by showing her body, that's her prerogative. But Mr. Levesque's financial scheme is akin to that of a pimp and is offensive. Furthermore, his plan to discriminate against older and less well-endowed women is illegal.

No one can enforce a moral code of conduct against this business, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can enforce federal employment discrimination laws.
-- Gena Toner, Ridge Manor

Why natural treasures are disappearing

Editor: After reading through the supplement Hundred Treasures in Tampa Bay, I thought of some of the reasons we may be losing some of these treasures through inattention and abuse. I have lived in Florida for 40 years and have seen some changes, like anyone who has been here since the great migrations of the 1980s. What concerns me the most at this point is how folks who want to see our "treasures" are not aware of how to take care of them.

A prime example is what I saw on the Weeki Wachee River April 30. My family took an inner-tube trip for a short distance in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. Where we put in is an area suitable for canoes, kayaks and tubers. Coming around a bend in the river, we were met by a 20-foot cabin cruiser with a 130-horsepower motor. This is an area where two canoes struggle to pass without touching. The boater found he could go no farther and tried to turn around. He gunned his motor several times, running into banks and tearing up water grasses and churning up silt that kept the river water, which is normally a pristine clear blue, gray-black for the rest of our trip. When we suggested he turn his motor off and use a boat hook to get downstream to deeper, wider channels, he had no idea what we were talking about.

It makes me sad and angry to know this boater had no clue as to the damage he was doing. The river is not marked; there is nothing to indicate depth at this point in the river. There were no marine patrols or other authorities to stop this person, and I don't believe there is anything but common sense to let people know that certain boats should not be on certain rivers. Apparently most folks don't have enough of this commodity to keep them from destroying this beautiful river.

I believe wild rivers need to be kept that way. I am planning to present this concept to the Hernando County Commission in the hopes that at least part of the Weeki Wachee could be made off limits to anything with a gasoline-powered motor. Perhaps there are more people out there who agree with me and would like to write their representatives. I sure hope so. I would like to see the river at least maintain its current beauty.
-- Cynthia Ryalls-Clephane, Brooksville

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