Editor: Over the past two years, I’ve enjoyed many robust, interesting and educational conversations with Pinellas County residents about the Greenlight Pinellas Plan.
The opportunity to share how it will vastly improve the quality of life for our residents and the ability to foster economic growth and prosperity for everyone has been very satisfying. While not everyone has agreed with me, at least they’ve had the opportunity to hear the benefits and now have a greater understanding of the plan.
Recently, Seminole’s leaders voted to become the only city not to support the Greenlight Pinellas plan. It was disappointing. Clearly, there was a lack of understanding of some very fundamental facts.
The truth is this: Greenlight Pinellas is a solid plan not only for Seminole, but also for all of Pinellas County. Seminole residents will enjoy new rapid bus service every 15-20 minutes. New early morning, late night and weekend service will be available as well as increased door-to-door connector service for seniors and the disabled. New community circulator buses connecting riders with shopping, schools and libraries will be available for our citizens.
Our veterans will have easier access to Bay Pines Hospital. Students will be able to arrive for classes at St. Petersburg College knowing there will be a bus later in the evening to bring them home – and on weekends, as well. Tourists will be able to come from the beach to enjoy the new Seminole City Center.
We’re a big county with a big population. That means people need options.
As our population ages, the ability to be mobile, independent and go shopping or to the doctor’s office, or just have lunch with a friend are the qualities that keep us healthy and active. Greenlight Pinellas is poised to give our residents these choices. We should all care deeply about what our county will be like 20 years from now. It’s for our kids and our grandchildren that we should be moving this initiative forward.
Beginning this fall, students at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole campus will receive a U-pass giving them free bus service as the result of a new partnership between St. Petersburg College and PSTA.
Our businesses will have access to a larger workforce that can reliably and safely get to work on time. We’ll be able to recruit and retain our young people who prefer to live and work in walkable communities were public transportation can be relied on to get them where they want to go. The new millennia’s care about this issue and it is a No. 1 top priority for them.
Seminole residents have a lot riding on our transit future as traffic congestion gets worse every year. Seminole city commissioners still have an opportunity to embrace a vision for the future that can help us move forward, literally. The good news is that there’s time for Seminole’s leaders to reconsider their vote, and hear from their residents who are calling for more choices when it comes to getting around our city and county.
Last month, I joined six other county commissioners in voting to eliminate PSTA’s portion of Pinellas homeowners’ property taxes, saving $32 million per year in advance of Greenlight Pinellas. That was the right thing to do – and it took the kind of long-term vision, leadership and courage that I know Seminole leaders understand.
As a city, a county and a region, it is critical that we take advantage of every opportunity if we expect to become a world-class destination for businesses to open, families to relocate, seniors to retire and visitors to explore. With so many benefits for all, Greenlight Pinellas is one opportunity we can’t afford to miss.