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Referendum is needed on community center proposal
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 21, 2000
Is the Carrollwood Area Association of Neighborhoods about to do it again with their push to develop a community center off Lowell Road to serve the "Carrollwood area"?
The original plan was to cover Carrollwood Village phases I, II and III. The general support was not there, forget the self-serving posturing of the quasi-official committee, which did not have one member from any of the six communities adjoining the site selected.
Let's look at CAAN's previous efforts in the area. First, it led the drive to put speed bumps in the Four Oaks area because of perceived excess traffic along Lowell Road. This is the same road that would be the only access road to the center and which is frequently flooded as the property in question is the drainage area for Carrollwood Village Phase I.
A second effort was fighting the development of a Lowe's store on Ehrlich west of N Dale Mabry, and a third effort was to lobby elected officials to revise fast track zoning for "affordable housing." The end result of these efforts is that instead of a Lowe's, which was willing to meet the neighborhood on issues of accessibility and landscaping, as well as donating part of the property to put in the new Northwest Library, we have a housing project consisting of rabbit hutches started by a contractor with financial problems resulting in bankruptcy.
We need to consider CAAN's push for this community center. Not one person I have spoken to stated they would ever use it. A place to jog in the woods when a woman can be attacked on West Village Drive. Basketball courts, we already have them. Computer rooms and meeting rooms we already have in the library, churches and schools throughout the area. A secluded parking area for teenagers to hang out in and use drugs -- we can do without.
My suggestion is that just because CAAN wants something, it does not make it the will of the people. The center is not being built for free; rather, it will be paid for by the taxpayers (Read: Us). I propose a referendum asking purely and simply: 1. Do you want a community center paid for with your taxes? and 2. If they built one would you use it?
Only after those questions were answered do we need to go into locations.
Do we really need a community center?
I echo the sentiments expressed in Dr. Nuehardt's letter, regarding the Carrollwood Area Community Center. This is nothing more than trying to find a way to spend the community investment tax revenues. The question that should be posed to the community is not where it should be located, but do we need a community center at all? I have yet to hear one compelling argument for having same!
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