Recently we heard that Governor Scott is considering selling off "surplus" park land to raise money. As many as 64 parks and conservation areas are affected. One site on the list is Blue Spring State Park.
This park is a manatee refuge and contains the largest spring on the St. Johns River. It offers fishing, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as kayaking and boating. It also has historic artifacts. In 2011, it was listed as the ninth most visited Florida state park, meaning that only eight parks have more visitors. Perhaps this isn't surprising considering that Blue Spring State Park draws over 550,000 visitors per year. Why would we want to sell any of the land associated with this marvelous park?
Incredibly, Lake Louisa State Park, another of my favorite parks, is also on the list of parks with "surplus" land. Another item on the hit list is thousands of acres of the Green Swamp in Polk County just to our north. One problem here is that four rivers have their headwaters in the Green Swamp area. Preserving these lands keeps these rivers clean and healthy. Small wonder that Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Florida Audubon, described the proposal to sell off land in the Green Swamp as "simply idiotic."
Perhaps this attack on "surplus" park land should not surprise us. In 2011, the Scott administration considered closing 53 parks. At least four were drawing 50,000 visitors a year. I checked the figures on two of these parks that were said to be too expensive to operate. If you divide the operating cost by the number of visitors, they cost between $20 and $22 per visitor. This does not seem exorbitant to me and the number of visitors should rise as the economy improves. Governor Scott and his Republican allies were forced to back down in 2011 and hopefully they will be forced to do so again.
Dale L. Gillis
Sebring 'Enough' in AP
When my brother and I had a "conflict," my Italian mother would scream "Basta!" which in her language meant "enough!" It is time, my fellow Avon Park citizens, to scream "Basta!"
I don't know about you but I am tired of reading about a city council member in "conflict" with the city manager. No doubt the "conflict" has roots for each concerned. Taking sides gets nowhere. Everyone has an opinion. Facts stand alone. Each has a job to do - one that is paid by the taxpayers and the other a council member who is accountable to the entire city - not a few, single-issues, folks.
Having had my turn as a city council member, I can certainly sympathize with the task of representing 8,000-plus residents. I can also say that the temptation to have a hidden agenda, or serving one's own desires, is always there. It takes vigilance and a long view to stay focused on the big picture: the prosperity of the city of Avon Park.
There is nothing that thwarts such an effort as constant turmoil. Folks will look elsewhere to buy a home or invest in a business. No one wins. Give your paid employee, the city manager, a chance to do his work. Evaluate his progress and reward him accordingly. It is that simple and need not take the time and energy of his position to defend lawsuits and recriminations by a council member.
It is simply enough. Get to work. Make our city the name it carries: The City of Charm, and get some positive press for a change! Basta!