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Letters to the Editors

Seniors deserve a night out at Pier

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 28, 2001

Re: Show won't go on at the Pier, Oct. 10.

In the eight years that we have been spending our winters in St. Petersburg, Thursday night at the Pier has always been the highlight of our week. Over these years we have had a delightful time listening and dancing to "Charlie's Rag Time Band." We always pick up a lot of elderly ladies and take them with us for "a night on the town." This is a vital part of a lot of senior citizens' activities. Frank, who plays the bass fiddle, and Gloria, who sings from the bottom of her heart, give so much back to the senior citizens, and they to them; it's a reason for living.

Why is the new management taking this away from the senior citizens? Don't the senior citizens count for anything? They go there, meet new people, enjoy the music, spend money and cause no problem. I'm sure if money is the issue, the senior citizens would be more than happy to contribute to some of the cost -- although the thought comes to mind that the city spends big bucks on entertainment, far more than the $20,000 it is spending for entertainment at the Pier for the senior citizens.

I think we senior citizens have worked hard all our lives and well deserve a few hours of happiness and entertainment a week. Now that it's our turn for a little payback and enjoyment, with what little time we have on this earth, it's being squeezed out and taken away from us.

Why didn't Urban Retail Properties Co. acknowledge the City Council's request to keep the entertainment as it previously was? Where is the council's backbone? Who is running things in the city of St. Petersburg, the council or Urban Retail Properties? It sounds to me like Frank Barrios is calling all the shots. Is this country a dictatorship or a democracy?

Wake up, City Council. Don't let Barrios run roughshod over you. Stand up for what you think is right. The Pier has always been and should always be a unique focal point in St. Petersburg, not just another shopping mall.

I am a senior citizen who likes the Pier and the way it has been managed. Instead of "out with the old and in with the new," let's make it "out with the new and keep the old."
-- Gerry M. Salmon, Glenfield, N.Y.

For recycling, cost is but one factor

Re: Curbside recycling.

I am 100 percent in favor of recycling because, when done right, we save our nonrenewable resources, save energy and save the environment. So I applaud the St. Petersburg City Council for delving onto this subject.

That said, I am not sure, pending more study, if curbside pickup is right for St. Petersburg. Cost is only one part of the formula. Questions that need to be considered are: Will the engine exhaust from the additional curbside pickups add more pollution than we save by recycling? Will the energy and nonrenewable resources expended by the trucks be more than we save? Will the additional wear and tear on the roads require more frequent repaving?

I know that other communities provide curbside pickup, but I think we should look at our current dropoff system and curbside pickup with respect to such things as population density, recycle trucks' mileage, volume of recycled material collected by each method, energy expended by each method, savings generated by each method, and truck exhaust vs. car exhaust.

Effective recycling for St. Petersburg is my goal, and I am concerned that our community will not get the benefits that we intuitively expect from curbside pickup.

I believe that we need to do more analysis before we go forward based solely on dollar amounts.
-- Sheldon A. Schwartz, St. Petersburg

Let St. Peter's Cathedral add parking

My daughter and husband are buried in St. Peter's Cathedral churchyard in St. Petersburg.

It is of utmost importance to me and my family that St. Peter's continue as an active downtown church.

Unless St. Peter's is allowed additional parking on the land where the former Baptist sanctuary now stands, it will be most difficult for the church to grow as a vibrant and contributing force downtown.

Please preserve the Cathedral Church of St. Peter instead of an old, dilapidated building that is a fire hazard.
-- Margaret P. Moore, Tallahassee

Church plan will help downtown renewal

Re: St. Peter's Cathedral.

I am a resident of the new Florencia condominium built on the ashes of the imploded Soreno Hotel. The Soreno, built in the 1920s, had lost its economic usefulness, and in fact, was part of the terrible blight that had overtaken downtown St. Petersburg.

The building of the Florencia helped trigger a resurgence in downtown: BayWalk, the Vinoy condominiums, the Cloisters, the new apartment complex by the Hilton. Some $200- to $300-million will be added to our tax rolls. The taxes will be used for services and education for all the residents of St. Petersburg. In addition, the area is now alive with people during the day and evening -- a stark contrast to the ghost town it once was.

The proposal of St. Peter's Cathedral will help the resurgence. I hope the City Council reverses the decision of the Historic Preservation Committee, which reflected the most narrow of views. Don't let this well-intentioned but narrow-minded group of people kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
-- Bruce A. Beery, St. Petersburg

American Stage lost a visionary

We are writing in reaction to the recent events involving Kenneth Mitchell, former artistic director of American Stage. We are former American Stage employees in various capacities, including stage manager and master carpenter (Thaddeus Engle) and assistant to the artistic director and professional actor (Becca McCoy Engle). We now work at the Charleston Stage Company in Charleston, S.C.

Ken is a fantastic leader with tremendous artistic integrity. His contribution to American Stage as artistic director was of great significance. American Stage and the bay area theater community will feel the loss of such a visionary deeply.

We sincerely hope that American Stage officials bring in an impartial theater consultant to analyze the structure of the theater to better understand the role of the artistic director, and the reason the shared management structure is an inefficient one. For the sake of the theater, they should also note how few regional theaters allow the board of directors to hire and fire or make any significant artistic contributions. They should be enablers. The board under Marion Ballard is not off to a good start.

We have a special fondness for American Stage that has been tainted by these events. It is extremely unfortunate that the party sacrificed in this display of poor judgment is the one with the interest of the theater in mind and the one possessing the integrity to make American Stage a great theater.
-- Rebecca McCoy Engle and Thaddeus A. Engle, North Charleston, S.C.

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