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    Letters to the Editors

    City manager: Look at facts on Phillies stadium

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 19, 2000

    Re: Building Phillies stadium at SPJC site is a bad idea. This is in response to the letter to the editor from Dennis Roper printed Dec. 11. The city received the final environmental report on the Drew Street site for a new Phillies stadium on Friday, Dec. 1. Our meeting with the media was scheduled in anticipation of receiving the final report.

    We attempted to get Mr. Roper a copy of that report that Friday, but we received it very late in the day. When we were unable to provide Mr. Roper with a copy that day, we made sure a copy was available to him early on Monday, Dec. 4. As of the date of this letter, Dec. 12, Mr. Roper had not picked up the report from our Engineering Department.

    The results of the environmental testing were designed to tell us whether the property was safe to accept in its present condition. We have stated all along that if the report came back clean, we would accept the property to be used for recreation purposes. We will not know whether the site is suitable for a stadium until further geotechnical testing is completed.

    If, as stated in his letter, Mr. Roper has knowledge of "suspect materials," such as "automotive batteries, tires, cans of old paint and drums of unknown liquids buried at the site," it would be beneficial to us all if that information or report were shared with our environmental staff.

    Regarding the "medical waste," at no time has the city attempted to disguise the items that we discovered in two of 41 borings (two needles and approximately 6 inches of plastic tubing) as "household waste." On the contrary, on Page 9, Section 4.2.2 of the Final Report, our consultant states that "identifiable materials in two of the borings included plastic tubing (similar to hospital IV tubing) and two needles." The report also states that these items were properly disposed of as "medical waste."

    I would also like to address the numbered items in Mr. Roper's letter.

    1. "This dump has a natural confining clay layer preventing contaminants from entering the aquifer. Start mucking around with it and run the risk of a real disaster."

    Mr. Roper may or may not be aware of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection-approved practice of using double casing when installing wells. Whether installing wells at a known petroleum-contaminated site (of which there are literally thousands in the state of Florida) or drilling in an area where contaminants may exist, FDEP's approved protocol is to use double casing to avoid the potential of opening a migration pathway to a deeper aquifer.

    All of the data we have collected suggest that a natural underlying clay layer begins at 10 to 30 feet below land surface and extends to approximately 80 feet. Any wells that the city or its consultant installs will be double-cased and will be done under the scrutiny of the FDEP. At no time will the city jeopardize the surficial aquifer, as indicated in Mr. Roper's letter.

    2. "The site is still compacting at the rate of about 2 inches per year and will continue to do so for another 20 years. This means structures built on top of that garbage will be expensive to build and more expensive to maintain."

    According to Mr. Roper's calculations, during the last 16 years the site would have dropped almost 3 feet. The city has no engineering report regarding the rate of compaction at the site. If Mr. Roper or anyone else has this information, we would appreciate a report of this nature being shared with us.

    The city is well aware of compaction issues at landfills. Throughout the country, many former landfills have been successfully rehabilitated to support schools, office complexes and highways.

    3. "The city has taken no steps to control methane gas at this site. If you build any kind of structure on top of decaying garbage, methane buildup is going to be a problem. Municipal Solid Waste Management, a nationally distributed magazine, reports at least one injury due to exploding methane."

    When structures are built on a landfill, managing methane must be addressed. But until we know that the site is a suitable location for the Phillies and we have accurate site plans showing where the buildings will be, it is impractical to conduct a methane study. For Mr. Roper to state that the city has taken no steps to control methane at this stage is inappropriate and constitutes an attempt to mislead and frighten the public.

    4. "Should it be determined that thousands of tons of garbage must be removed from the area where structures are to be built, site preparation costs will be astronomical."

    The Term Sheet between the city and the Phillies clearly states, "If the costs of such site work and of its impacts are reasonably estimated by the parties to exceed $500,000, then either party may terminate the Project."

    In conclusion, city commissioners and staff have demonstrated their commitment to the residents near the proposed stadium site. We have organized four public meetings to date to inform the public on the sinkhole and drainage issues and to receive input from the residents on what they believe will have an additional impact on the area. We will use this information throughout the development and planning of this project.

    We are pleased that these meetings also resulted in the community receiving commitments from the city to address the drainage issue. In fact, the city's Public Works staff already has proposed a well-structured plan and facilitated communications between state and county agencies with the neighborhood on the sinkhole issue.

    I understand Mr. Roper's concerns, but I believe there is common ground and room for compromise. We will continue with the positive dialogue we have established with area residents. In the future, I hope Mr. Roper will take the time to consider the accuracy of his statements so the public can understand the real issues and form opinions based on facts, not fear. I sincerely believe that if we work together, we will accomplish more and the community will reap the benefit.
    -- Bill Horne, Clearwater Interim City Manager

    With traffic violations rampant, chief's argument is ridiculous

    Re: Trooper, chief clash over beach turf, Dec. 6 story.

    The Treasure Island Police Department should hang its head in shame. To be fighting against a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who is enforcing traffic laws that the police department should be (but is not) enforcing, is ridiculous. It is obvious that officers do not have the time or desire to enforce traffic laws. I say it is obvious because no matter what community you drive in, you see constant, horrendous traffic violations occurring.

    Reckless driving, speeding, running red lights, running stop signs, refusing to obey traffic signs -- everybody does it. No wonder road rage is booming.

    I challenge anyone reading this letter to drive on any street at the posted speed limit and see what develops. I guarantee that you will receive obscene gestures, horn honking, dirty looks and some will even cross a double solid line in the road just to pass you. That is your reward for obeying the law. Go ahead, try it.

    As you are traveling down a familiar street, glance at your actual speed, then look at the posted limit. I'll bet you will be at least 10 mph over the limit, possibly much more. I had a car pass me yesterday on 113th Street where the posted speed limit was 45 mph, plenty fast for that section of road. Ten cars passed me, one going at least 20 mph over the posted limit.

    Do you come to a complete stop at a stop sign? Not many people do. Some never even slow down. A stop means that the tires stop rotating completely. Observe, you might see only one person in over 100 actually stop at a stop sign.

    I commend any law enforcement officer who strictly enforces traffic laws. It is for the safety of us all.
    K.M. Nudd, Largo

    Scientology protesters bring nothing good to Clearwater

    Re: Scientology protest stays peaceful, Dec 3 story.

    On that weekend, out-of-town protesters tried to harass the parishioners and staff members of the Church of Scientology.

    These protesters are not the kind of people we need in downtown Clearwater. As a downtown business owner, I am working alongside other merchants to make downtown a place where people can shop and bring their families.

    I have seen the work that the church has done to beautify its property and to make the downtown safer. On the other hand, these picketers are not doing anything to bring a sense of community to Clearwater. Instead they bring their lies and hate propaganda to try and tear down what we all have built up.
    -- Dino Zompanakis, Clearwater

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