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    Letters to the Editors

    Residents divided after senior center proposition fails

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 14, 2000


    Re: Vote shocks senior center's fans, Nov. 9 story.

    The failure of the proposition to help fund the Palm Harbor Senior Activity Center was unfortunate. But the insensitivity of Edward Dooge, who was quoted as saying that he voted against helping finance the senior center because the ladies he saw at an annual dinner hosted by Rotarians were very well-dressed and he thus decided that they didn't need the money, was the worst example of a human being I have heard about since Scrooge in Charles Dickens' The Christmas Carol. How does he expect our senior ladies to dress when they go out in public?

    He should be thankful that he has the means and funds to enjoy his retirement. Maybe he ought to come and have lunch or dinner with some of these citizens when the cereal bowl might be the only meal they get except for some of the low-cost lunches provided to them at the center.

    These are proud people who would just as soon let you keep the $10 or $12 a year on the tax levy that the proposition would have cost you. They dress well because they were brought up that way, and because their manner and style is something a person like you would never understand.
    -- Ralph Morrison, Palm Harbor

    Taxes should not aid the few at the expense of the many

    The people of Palm Harbor demonstrated their wisdom by voting down the only referendum that didn't pass this election, the Palm Harbor Senior Activity Center tax. They realized that giving half a million dollars a year to a quasi-governmental, private organization was a waste of taxpayers' money.

    The senior center elite left a perfectly good building in downtown Palm Harbor to build a Taj Mahal on a dead-end street nowhere near a bus stop. After they built the building, they had to ask for another quarter-million dollars to add sprinklers. Now, they wanted a tax to defray operating costs and eliminate user fees.

    Our vote affirms the principle that taxes should not be used to benefit the few at the expense of the many. If the senior center is worthwhile, the users will pay the fees. If it can't support itself, it should move back to downtown Palm Harbor and sell the Taj Mahal to the YMCA, which is planning to move next door to them.
    -- Roger W. Gambert, Palm Harbor

    Clearwater officials at last pay heed to Countryside

    Re: Mayor helps fill area's wish lists, Nov. 5.

    For the past several years, dating back to times previous to the mayor's election, a group of Countryside activists met from time to time to discuss issues facing the neighborhood. At that time, however, there was no willingness on the part of the city to listen.

    It was not until the election of Mayor Brian Aungst and the appointment of former City Manager Mike Roberto that we ever had an opportunity to have an active dialogue with any elected or appointed city official. Only since Mayor Aungst's election has Countryside been anything other than the proverbial "red-headed stepchild."

    Yes, Mayor Aungst has been very active in the dialogue relating to Countryside issues. To his credit, he has always pointed out that he represents the entire Clearwater community and cannot and will not favor one neighborhood over another.

    The Countryside neighborhood is actively engaging the city in ongoing dialogue. Do we have issues and needs? Absolutely. We talk and they listen. They talk and we listen. Has Mayor Aungst used his influence, prestige and power to unfairly bless Countryside? Is he guilty of neighborhood pork-barreling?

    I don't think so.
    -- Bud Elias, Clearwater

    Countryside resident lauds mayor for his support

    Re: Mayor helps fill area's wish lists, Nov. 5.

    As residents of Countryside for almost 20 years, we feel we must respond to the article. The tone of the article left readers to believe that perhaps Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst was playing favorites with the city's budget.

    It reminds us of the Little League coach who is criticized for putting his own son in the game even when his critics know the son is well deserving of the playing time. Our mayor has supported projects in many areas of Clearwater; that he lives in Countryside should not eliminate Countryside from its fair share.

    In our opinion, the statement that "Aungst worked behind the scenes" also leaves the wrong impression. The issues of the library hours and the recreation center expansion have been discussed by Countryside residents for years. The $500,000 budgeted for the recreation center has been in the Penny for Pinellas budget since the mid '90s and was in this year's city budget.

    A Countryside task force comprising leaders from our community has been meeting since even before the mayor's election to discuss issues important to us. There also have been public meetings over the last two years at which city staff worked with Countryside residents to get feedback on what those residents felt their community needed most, and the mayor has been there to listen and learn.

    Since Countryside "constitutes approximately one-sixth of the city's property value" and its requests have been well thought-out and are definitely not excessive, we applaud the mayor's support. Certainly, criticism comes with the job. However, our mayor and commissioners also deserve to be treated fairly and appreciated for the good work they do in the vast majority of issues before them. An article that taints without cause an individual's worthy efforts would seem to require at least an apology.
    -- Jerry and Melody Figurski, Clearwater

    Countryside branch library should stay closed Sundays

    Re: Mayor helps fill area's wish lists, Nov. 5.

    Mayor Aungst has some nerve to try to open the Countryside branch library on Sundays. If this happens, then all the libraries should be opened. The same thing applies applies to the reclaimed water to Countryside. Nice, mayor, these actions should get you re-elected as the mayor of Countryside.
    -- Al Steiner, Clearwater

    Park Boulevard drugstore would be an asset

    Re: Drugstore chain offers up revised plan, Nov. 8 story.

    I think a CVS drugstore at Park Boulevard and 113th Street would be a wonderful asset to our community. The local chain drugstores need some real competition for us to get prices reduced. Many of the area's citizens are elderly and would benefit from competitive prices.

    Do not let the gripes of a few, narrow-minded neighbors derail this business that would be good for Seminole.
    -- Ralph Beck, Seminole

    Vacant building might make better site for drugstore

    Wouldn't it make better economic and public-relations sense for CVS to purchase a property such as the vacant Kash n' Karry store on Park Boulevard, which is already zoned commercial and has been an abandoned eyesore for years, rather than property in a primarily residential area?

    Also, the traffic flow into a store on Park Boulevard would be clearer than from 113th Street and the exposure for CVS would be greater.
    -- Elaine Salter, Seminole

    Officials give excuses for wasting potable water

    Re: Drinking water sprinkles lawns

    Water, water everywhere but fewer drops to drink.

    Last week we heard about a critical water shortage that required fast-track approval to start a desalination research project so that work could be in progress early next year. We heard about more conservation, the unknown costs, but finally decided to get more data before making a decision.

    While deliberations were in progress, the city was replacing reclaimed water with potable water because the reclaimed water was not up to standards.

    Didn't the wastewater department know what the water department knew, that there was a potable water shortage?

    Was it more important to preserve the prestige of the wastewater department to supply potable water without asking anyone to observe the watering restrictions on potable water use?

    This is reminiscent of the roundabout fountain, when we were given excuses for the use of potable water and lame excuses for the waste of the potable water.

    Is this just another embarrassment to add to our history book?
    -- Lee Regulski, Clearwater

    Anti-breast cancer walk deserved more attention

    On Oct. 21, more than 5,000 people gathered at Straub Park, took part in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, raised more than $323,000, and nothing was mentioned in your paper. Yet one week later your readers were informed about funds raised for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Pinellas County, which in itself is a very worthwhile cause.

    I only wish you had given as much attention to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk as you gave to the Puppies on Parade. Each year, more than 183,000 women and 1,400 men -- yes, men -- are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is not a simple ailment that inconveniences you. This is a disease that can and has destroyed the strongest of strong, torn families apart and is something that needs to constantly be in the public eye. In doing so, they can be educated and made aware of research that is being done to prevent this and over 100 other cancers that affect all of us daily.

    Yes, seeing a cute puppy gives us all a warm and comfy feeling. However, if you had shown a picture of the survivors of breast cancer and their supporters that participated in this walk, this would have made a greater impact on the community.

    With continued support, instead of walking for a cure next year, hopefully they and others will be able to gather at Straub Park and celebrate that a cure has been found.
    -- Susan Russo, Dunedin

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