I was not surprised to hear this afternoon that Pinellas County public works officials have recommended against a very cool new draft plan submitted last week that would transform the closed Friendship TrailBridge into a world-class linear park across the Bay connecting Tampa and St. Petersburg.
My good friend Mitch Perry at Creative Loafing did an update story today explaining why Pinellas public works officials opposed the draft plan. Pinellas is taking a look at the FTB draft plan because both Pinellas and Hillsborough jointly own the TrailBridge, which has been closed since November of 2008.
What's very disappointing about Pinellas County's action is that the public works staff didn't even show the professional courtesy of meeting the FTB draft plan's authors, Kevin Thurmon and Ken Cowart, to discuss the issues with the draft report.
Kevin and Ken would be happy to meet Pinellas staff to address the county's concerns.
Pinellas' opposition to infusing new life into the FTB does not surprise me because I lobbied the Pinellas county commission three years ago on behalf of SWFBUD to apply for federal funds to repair the FTB. But the Pinellas commissioners voted 7-0 at the time to not even apply for federal money.
Fast-forward three years and Pinellas staff this week opposed repairing the FTB. Mitch's story offers some details on why Pinellas staff opposed the draft plan and includes Kevin's good comment about all we want is a meeting to discuss the draft report.
The Pinellas public official, Jorge Quintas, spoke with Mitch Perry but did not even have the decency to talk with the report's authors, Kevin and Ken.
Meanwhile on the Hillsborough County side of the Bay, Hillsborough public works staff is still reviewing the draft FTB plan.
How can you help?
Please write or call the Pinellas County commissioners to advise them to have Pinellas public works staff officials meet with Kevin and Ken to discuss the FTB draft plan. Use this link to contact the Pinellas commissioners: http://www.pinellascounty.org/commission/default.htm
And please continue calling and writing the Hillsborough County Commissioners and tell them to support the FTB draft plan. Contact Hillsborough commissioners at this link: http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/bocc/about/contactus.cfm
And here are your talking points (which ran in a previous Patch blog post): http://seminoleheights.patch.com/blog_posts/tips-to-write-a-letter-to-county-commissioners-to-save-the-friendship-trailbridge