Letters to the Editors
New rules for 'stuff' at Jazz Holiday are absurd
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000
Re: Waves of jazz to wash over Clearwater, Oct. 16 story.
The excitement of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday had been building for weeks, until I read this article in your paper. This will be our 14th year attending -- same spot, meeting friends we don't get to see but once a year, watching how all our children have grown. But children without a picnic basket? I had to read it twice!
Every year it's some new rule. Last year it was the cooler check, and even though we didn't have a cooler, they frisked our chairs, felt something and unpacked our chairs and found a bottle of water. Talk about holding up the line!
Karen Vann, executive director of the Jazz Holiday, must not have children. Tell my children they have to carry their own jackets, blankets, books, card games, Game Boys, juice, water or anything else they like to take while at the park. I promptly called the Clearwater Jazz number in the phone book to ask, well how do I transport all this STUFF, is a bag okay? They told me it was a city ordinance not to bring a picnic basket. I was also told not to bring any "adult food."
"You may bring peanut butter sandwiches, juice boxes, formula, bottles, anything for the children, but you will be turned away if you have any adult food. The vendors want you to buy from them." Now I cannot bring grapes, cheese and crackers?
This is absurd! What about those that have diet restrictions or diabetics, vegans, ones that can't afford the price of the food, or those that simply prefer their own cuisine?
So now, the city of Clearwater is trying to tell me what I can eat at a public park? Forget it, I'll bring my own food and wine as during so many years, and the only change should be to charge me for the entertainment.
City pay should mean city work
Your Oct. 11 editorial, Time to end Clearwater's era of perks for officials, is absolutely correct and should be read and understood by city commissioners, employees and other citizens of Clearwater.
John Asmar was paid $85,000 per year (plus vacation, sick leave, future pension and probably medical insurance, etc.) to oversee planning and development for Clearwater -- not for "Asmar & Co." of Orlando. Interim City Manager Bill Horne may be "very comfortable" with Asmar's antics, but we citizens and taxpayers are not.
Note that 67 hours of private business (only what could be readily identified) cost the taxpayers close to $3,000 in Asmar's salary, while Asmar was also picking up a paycheck from his Orlando business. He finally repaid the city for his guesstimate of the telephone costs and paid whatever more the auditors could identify. Why not? It certainly was cheaper than having to buy his own telephone and cell phone, wasn't it?
Asmar's salary, employee benefits and expenses for telephone and travel are far from the end of things. The audit and two-month investigation also cost the taxpayers a packet in salaries and benefits for city auditors who could have been doing other productive work.
We are pleased by Mayor Brian Aungst's statement that "the city's policies would be reviewed and changed." We hope this includes the city manager's office.
Tarpon residents deserve explanation
I am a 13-year resident of Tarpon Springs and have lived in Pinellas County for 46 years.
In Tarpon Springs, the property tax rate has remained the same or has decreased in the past six years. The city's reserve has increased by as much as four times in the same period. The Finance Department has been given high marks for its clear and understandable presentations by the Government Finance Officers Association. Although the department was working with a reduced staff, any citizen has been able to get an understandable answer to his or her question.
Now I understand the person responsible for this department, the finance director of six years, was let go by the city manager without further explanation.
I think it's time for the city manager to give some clear and understandable answers to the taxpayers of this city.
Keep water access open to the public
Re: Marina may become upscale village, Oct. 5.
The redevelopment project is basically a good idea as long as the public boat ramp remains public.
The Seminole boat ramp parking lot is full nearly every summer weekend with cars and trailers overflowing into other businesses. Not one parking space should be sacrificed for this resort. No one can say there is not a need for this ramp; plenty of people and taxpayers are paying for it. City of Clearwater, don't give any of our property away.
Just as the article said, "With Sand Key being developed out and Island Estates being developed out... " the citizens that live here are being shut out of easy access to the water unless they have a six-figure income. Public access needs to be figured in with all of the redevelopment, including adequate parking.
Build your fancy resort, but when those people start complaining that the boat/trailer traffic is unsightly or noisy or annoying, remind them that it was there when they bought their property.
Fellow boaters, pay attention! Don't let this get by without all the fine print being read.
Stadium plan raises many questions
We live in the Rolling Heights subdivision adjacent to the College Hill subdivision in Clearwater.
The proposed stadium will be an asset to Clearwater and will indeed be a financial benefit. However, after listening to the pros and cons, I have yet to hear any answers to the following:
1. What does St. Petersburg Junior College get in return for giving the land to the city of Clearwater?
2. Where does the money come from for the improvements to roads, sewers and utilities? Have any studies been done in these areas?
3. It's my understanding that the stadium will handle 8,000 people with parking for 1,000 cars. Assuming that one car equals four people equals 4,000, where do the other 4,000 people park?
4. Is the developer local or outside the county? What will his profit be? Will he take his profits from this project and spend them outside of Pinellas County and leave us with the problems that will be generated?
5. Will Sharkey Road, Coachman Road and Old Coachman Road be widened? If so, when and who pays? Has the engineering been completed?
6. It was stated at both commission meetings that concerts and other activities will be held for additional income. "Concerts" mean loud, screaming amplifiers, uncontrolled fans and trash of both kinds. Not in our neighborhoods.
7. Heavy semitrailer trucks go in and out of the waste station off Old Coachman Road. Will this cause a problem?
8. How will overflow parking and through-traffic be prevented from entering our neighborhood for any activity?
We are not against the stadium, but there are too many unanswered questions and too many pie-in-the-sky answers. There is an underlying current to all of this that is definitely not being told to the public and has a certain rank smell to it. Since the city's previous proposal was soundly defeated, is this going to be crammed down the taxpayers' throats in retaliation?
Only small changes needed on C.R. 1
All County Road 1 needs to improve the traffic flow between Curlew Road and Tampa Road in Palm Harbor is two or three turn lanes. No need to tear up front lawns and those 30-year-old trees.
Belcher Road has reduced traffic tremendously. In fact, continuing Belcher would be a much better use of the money.
How do we get to the powers-that-be to stop County Road 1 from becoming a four-lane expressway?
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
North Pinellas desks