Editor: In response to the letter on Feb. 9 titled “Tear down the water tower.” I too have lived in the Seminole area for 60 years and have seen many changes. I must admit that, initially, the water tower wasn’t a pretty sight. However, when the birds were painted on it, it became a landmark for many of us. Frankly, I think it is lovelier than some of the bizarre murals in downtown St. Petersburg. It is unfortunate that Mr. Dawson was allowed to speak for the entire art community in Pinellas County. I admire the ability of the water tower artist to create something with which we can all identify. And to be able to paint something on a curved surface (that has to match up on the other side) is certainly beyond many persons’ capabilities of painting on a flat surface.
What kind of architect is not able to think of an “alternative reuse for a structure?” In our travels we have seen many reuse ideas for large structures. Besides, the tower was in Seminole before the neighborhood was developed. Perhaps the architects of the neighborhood should have built the neighborhood to be more “in scale” with the tower.
On another note, our young grandsons were taught to recognize their location in the Seminole area by orienting themselves with the tower.
We travel quite a bit and whenever we’re returning, we know we’re home when we see our lovely water tower. The tower is the one unique thing in the Seminole area that separates us from so many other small communities. How do you know when you’ve arrived in Largo? Clearwater? Pinellas Park? Please do not take away the water tower, which is our unique landmark.
Editor: Can the Seminole city budget provide ongoing millions of dollars of expenditures for the water tower? According to Suzette Porter’s Feb. 2 “County responds to city’s water tower request” article, that’s what it would take.
The estimated $125,000 per year for annual upkeep and liability of the tower, times eight years, adds up to this whopping $1 million use of the public purse. Additionally, the article notes the cost of the county lot on which the tower stands is between $500,000 and $600,000. Many taxpayers in Seminole see this as public spending out of control.
Thanks to the County Commission for their refusal of the adamant and nonsensical offer from the Seminole Council to purchase the tower for only $1. County Administrator Woodard advised that customers of the Pinellas County water system paid for that resource, dispelling the council’s notion that Seminole has any inherent right to the tower simply because it lies close to, not within city limits of Seminole. Construction of the water tower pre-dates the incorporation of the city of Seminole in 1970.
Porter’s article notes Mayor Waters’ Facebook message to Commissioner Welch wherein she vents her emotional “upset” that Seminole did not receive proceeds from the BP oil spill settlement. Administrator Woodard advised that guiding principles were supplied which prompted cities to seek out their own BP money, and within set deadlines. Seminole did not comply but chose to submit a request after the deadline. Rules are rules, and are meant for everyone, even for the Seminole City Council. No exception should be made for unjustifiable demands and missed opportunity of leadership from Mayor Waters.
Editor: After reading the lengthy article in last week’s edition concerning the proposed Dunedin Causeway bridge and the concern about “sea level rise,” I’m reminded of two incidents of many years ago, long before this term and the term “global warming“ were first invented. While in the audience at a meeting of the City Commission in my native St. Augustine, the topic of the evening centered on how to reduce the number of drawbridge openings for the scores of shrimp trawlers which went to sea each morning, and returned in late afternoon. After considerable debate, one of the commission members offered her solution. “Mr. Mayor, I propose that we hire a dredging company to deepen the channel under the drawbridge, so that the shrimp trawlers would have ample room to transit, without having to raise the bridge!”
The other was a lengthy article published in a major daily newspaper, as well as being distributed by the respected United Press. It told of retreating glaciers and melting icebergs in the Arctic, of the relocating of migrating fish and seals, panic among Eskimos and polar bears and warm changes in air and sea temperatures. The alarming warming account was published and distributed in 1922, some 95 years ago. If the plan is to raise the elevation of the proposed bridge, is there also a plan to raise all of the bridge approaches ... all of the “barrier” islands? Just curious.
Editor: Have you ever seen the wonderful 2012 youtube video “Funedin”? In it, hundreds of Dunedin residents, shop owners, visitors, and workers come together, all singing and dancing on the streets of our downtown, celebrating the joys of Dunedin all together. Well, things certainly have changed in the past year because of the installation of downtown paid parking, and I do not think we could make that video today.
And so, it is with a heavy heart that I implore Dunedin residents and visitors to consider the changes that have occurred in downtown Dunedin since the implementation of paid parking and let our City Commission know what you think.
Since the paid parking program's start on Oct. 1, our family-owned, unique, quirky shops that are the hallmark of Delightful Dunedin’s downtown are losing money hand over fist, from 30 to 75 percent in sales. No small business owner can sustain that for very long. This is an unintended consequence, but it turns out that we are raising money for a parking garage on the backs of our small business owners.
Editor: As a long-term resident of the city of Seminole and an architect who has enjoyed a long career in Pinellas County, I’d like to voice my evaluation of the Seminole water tower.
The tower has always been an unfortunate visual malignancy on the face of an otherwise charming suburban town. It would fit in comfortably in an industrial district that was zoned for the storage of toxic chemicals, but not a residential community.
The tower has no historical or architectural value and is not worthy of preservation. There is no alternative adaptive reuse for a structure that is so offensive and out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood.
It was once considered so ugly that an attempt was made to turn it into a mural. The problem is that the quality of the mural artwork is just as bad as the tower itself. The art community in Pinellas County has always considered the tower mural to be a joke. Drive through downtown St. Petersburg if you want to see genuine talent of numerous mural artists on display.
Editor: “What we’ve had here is a failure to communicate.” From “Cool Hand Luke.” Despite many long-winded meetings where citizens share their viewpoints with the commissioners and anyone from the public who chooses to listen, we leave these meetings feeling that we haven’t been heard. Additionally, the commission is burned out from another late night. This is not a win for anyone. We’re all getting weary and there’s no relief in sight; there are more issues on the horizon.
Maybe we have to change the way we communicate. Most of what we have in place for the public is one-way communication. There is rarely an exchange of ideas. If you send an email to the city, it may as well go in the circular file. If it wasn’t for social media such as various FB groups and NextDoor, we citizens might not ever know that our concerns were shared with other citizens.
Recently, a public listening session regarding paid parking was held at the Hale Senior Center. Over 350 attended. Almost all of the 20 plus people who spoke were against the parking management system, but the responses from the city to a few cherry-picked concerns seemed canned and even irrelevant. There were also listening sessions with the Dunedin Downtown Merchants Association and the Marina Advisory Board, whose opinions obviously weigh heavily in decision-making, but the results of those discussions remain behind closed doors. We need meaningful, two-way communication.
How do we get out of this rut? One way is to increase transparency and make all meeting minutes available to the public. Another way is to invite people from the general public, people who are not stakeholders, to have a seat at the table of these smaller meetings. Would the outcome have been any different if we had been allowed to weigh in and our opinions and suggestions were given serious consideration? We’ll never know.
Editor: Near the end of November 2016, I read an article in the Seminole Beacon about the city of Madeira Beach considering an increase in parking rates from $2 an hour to $2.50 an hour. I live in Seminole now for 15 years, but in Pinellas County for 43 years (eight of them in Madeira Beach). I drive to the beach for my walks on the beach, or relaxing in a chair, and I deal with the $2 an hour fees. I realize parking can’t be free, but could something be worked out for area residents who still enjoy the beach?
Re: “His new friend - Ellie the foster cat,” Driver column, Jan. 26 Editor: A heart-warming tribute by columnist Bob Driver on his lovable feline companion that all of us “cat” people can relate to. We also use the Rope-a-Dope as an added teaser - for agility.
A very informative column in striking our “feline fancy.”
Editor: Dear Mayor Bujalski: I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I was unhappy to receive a parking ticket in downtown Dunedin a couple of weeks ago. We were parked on Broadway, in the middle of that block of shops.
After realizing there was a ticket on our windshield, it actually took us some time to actually locate the signs posted notifying one that this was a pay to park area. There is one blue P at the beginning of that block and another P at the back end of that block. Nowhere in the middle was there any signage indicating one had to pay to parallel park there.
The P signs are also high UP your sign poles, not readily visible to people, without craning one’s neck upward. People, such as us parking there, would not notice your signs and a blue P would not have given us the warning we would have needed. No meters, no signage. Nothing. And, having parked there many times in the past, we were shocked.
I became even more angry when I read your citation notice, “Why Paid Parking Now?” I quote, “We need your help to fund structured vertical parking. Your contribution will allow the city to obtain financing to ensure adequate parking for generations to come.”
Editor: While it’s great to see all of these new businesses, buildings and store fronts rising up from the rubble of where the old Seminole Mall stood I have to wonder, since this new area is being called the “Seminole City Center,” has anyone noticed that the old Seminole Mall sign is still standing at the corner of Seminole Boulevard and Johnson?
Editor: So many things come to mind when I think about Pat Shontz, a long-time Madeira Beach resident, business owner, mayor, city commissioner and my friend and political ally for many years who passed away this past week.
First and foremost, Pat remained a loyal friend to all who knew or worked with her. This courtesy was extended even to those with whom she disagreed, so long as they treated those differences civilly.
Her genuine respect and concern for those she served, not only at the Apple Restaurant she operated in Madeira Beach for so many years, but also those she encountered at city hall where she served tirelessly for over four decades as a citizen’s advocate, expressed perfectly the way Pat felt people deserved to be treated.
This, along with her generous contributions to those causes she championed, not only financially, but by rolling up her sleeves and just getting the job done will not soon be forgotten by the many who were the beneficiaries of her largess.
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