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Letters to the Editors

Tennis Center, neighbors can prosper

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 6, 2001

Re: St. Petersburg Tennis Center.

I found the article in the May 27 Neighborhood Times (Tennis players seek cleanup, get results) somewhat discomfiting, especially as it did not relate the latest notice to members and users: that the mayor has submitted for the 2002 budget the option of "contracting out" its operation in a bid process.

The article concentrated on the efficiency of operations, with a catalog of complaints responded to by St. Petersburg's recreation director.

My uneasiness with the article is that it didn't address the current issues and what is at stake for the adjacent community. Among these is whether the recreation activities for St. Petersburg residents are to be judged with a "profit center" mentality as in private-sector accounting practices.

The other more disquieting question is, are we again going to fail the residents of the surrounding community, as occurred with the construction of Tropicana Field and the city's late recognition of our failed mission there? The city appears to feel that it can't resurrect the rich tradition of this tennis facility.

I feel that the uncommon sadness of this scenario might be diffused somewhat by revisiting the mission of the city's recreation program. Vision and imagination may enhance this task and rectify what could be interpreted as a disconnect to the community. The decline of the status of the Tennis Center can be offset through a creative unity of purpose.

Delray Beach (an area smaller than ours by far) built a new tennis center in a multiethnic area downtown, with a three-story clubhouse and tennis stadium where top-flight Women's Tour events have taken place along with concerts. This triggered the rehabilitation of the adjacent area.

I believe the Tennis Center's challenges may be positively approached with creative patterns of thinking to benefit the city, community and players.
-- Harry Quinn, St. Petersburg

Sunken Gardens provides a lovely visit

In 1965, my husband and I visited Sunken Gardens. My husband is long deceased.

I have watched in the St. Petersburg Times the debate on whether to preserve Sunken Gardens. Thank you to the people who fought to preserve it.

On a recent morning, my granddaughter and her two little sons, 3 and 5, drove to Largo to get me and show me the new Sunken Gardens. It is beautiful and a credit to St. Petersburg. I really enjoyed my visit.

It is great to preserve the beautiful plants, birds and butterflies I saw there. Also, several school classes of well-behaved youngsters visited and were interested in what they were seeing -- a credit to their teachers.

Old things should be preserved so the children of today and tomorrow can see beauty as it was in nature.

Thank you for a pleasant experience. I am a retired Pinellas County teacher.

Keep up the good work!
-- Elizabeth Peacock, Largo

Treasure Island lawsuit: Who, why, how?

Re: Court defeat might mean tax increase, May 27.

Let me be the first resident of Treasure Island to thank our past mayor, Walter Stubbs, for his final legacy to our town.

The lawsuit he initiated in 1988 (for some unknown reason) has finally been settled by the Supreme Court of Florida in favor of the developer of Land's End.

Since moving out of the city, he has no responsibility regarding this lawsuit. Such a shame! Serious questions should be asked: Who, why and how? This would be a great follow-up story to your article. This $3-million judgment will cost each resident thousands of dollars.
-- Paul R. Straubinger, Treasure Island

Mentally ill homeless people need help

Re: Advocate: Mentally ill need a shelter, by Jon Wilson, May 30.

It is a truism that seriously mentally ill homeless people cannot solve their own problems -- they need help. Punishment of them is inhumane. They require mental health care, not harassment. Many of these poor souls have to endure rude comments from the ignorant.

The stigma of mental illness must be done away with through public education. We must create an understanding community climate and see to it that these people are sheltered properly and treated medically. Their full recovery will be a gradual process, not an instant one.

Civic leaders must see to it that toilets are available to all homeless folks. Helping the helpless would make our public streets saner and safer places.
-- Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg

Spend money to replace block sidewalks

Re: Old Northeast sidewalks.

The Northeast neighborhood and the city of St. Petersburg should consider replacing the old block sidewalks instead of spending all the money on roundabouts and speed bumps in the streets.

I have had two severe falls because of uneven sidewalks, resulting in painful physical damage. Many of my neighbors have had the same experience.

I am not sure who is responsible for the sidewalks (the homeowner or the city), but I feel it is the responsibility of the city to enforce safety rules and see that dangerous hazards are eliminated.

I think the roundabouts and speed bumps may also cause accidents.

St. Petersburg is becoming a dangerous city for motorists and pedestrians.
-- Barbara Specht, St. Petersburg

Rabbinical reminder not necessary

Re: Reform synagogue hires N.Y. rabbi, May 27.

There are those of us who dearly love Rabbi Stephen Moch and always will. His departure from Temple Beth-El was and is very painful.

Was it really necessary for your Neighborhood Times article announcing our new rabbi to include the issues surrounding Rabbi Moch's resignation last October? Why can't you leave things rest!
-- Phyllis Silverstein, Treasure Island

Toll booth traffic is dangerous

Much has been written about the problem of distraction by hand-held cell phones. Another critical distraction I see are tolls. There is absolutely no way to safely approach a toll booth while fishing for change and trying to undo a seat belt.

As I approached the toll booth at Tierra Verde recently, the car of the driver to my right suddenly swerved into my lane, realizing at the last minute that he didn't have or did have the right amount of change for the toll. We narrowly avoided an accident.

Surely someday someone will figure out how to deduct tolls from one's credit card or debit card without creating the hazard that now surrounds toll booths.
-- Thom Cooper, St. Petersburg

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