By Leo Coughlin
To illustrate the rather dramatic separation from reality by some folks in these parlous economic times please note this –
The hicockalorums at the bloated and overdone Recreation, Parks and Arts Department in Largo wanted to add a gazebo to the amenities of Central Park.
(And in a moment we will get to the mentality that thinks 30-year old buildings “are at the end of their useful life.”)
Oh, you don’t know what a gazebo is?
It is a roofed over, open structure, sometimes 5- or 7-sided, usually raised a few steps from ground level that might be 10 feet by 10 feet or so and can be used for solitary meditation or a little romantic visit or for just about any legal purpose.
(There was a hilariously funny movie years ago with the title of “The Gazebo” that you might be on the lookout for on TV.)
No doubt it takes money to run a city, even a small one like Largo with a population of about 75,000 (if you strain a point). That can be seen in the amount the city administration pays for office supplies – it averages $644 a day (a whopping amount of paper clips, hey?).
That’s giving you the news gently, and with a sort of perspective. The figure over two years is something like $335,000.
But let’s stop and think a minute. Sure that $644 a day is undoubtedly needed. Put it in the category of essential.
What are the other essentials? Police, fire, water, sewer, trash pickup. Can’t really take care of business without those elements, that’s for sure.
So in these days of belt tightening and doing without (Penny for Pinellas funds being reduced out of necessity; tax collections way behind with folks who have not paid in Pinellas and surrounding counties) why in tarnation does the Largo Parks, Recreation and Arts Department continue to soak up money as if it were the most important division of the city.
That stuff is all about play time, amusement, entertainment, the kind of stuff that you do when you have time – and money – for it. Definitely not an essential.
So in these parlous days why is the city of Largo contemplating on improving – at the tune of $5 million to $8 million – a county road? Highland Avenue is fine just the way it is now, thank you. If we want a Champs Ellysee in Largo we can take that up when there is plenty of moolah floating around.
But there was the dog and pony show last week with the Capital Improvements Projects (read wish list). The law requires its submission but City Manager Mac Craig could have simply handed it to the City Commission, fulfilling the legal requirement, and some serious business could have ensued.
Now about 30-year old buildings that are no longer good for their “intended use.”
We’re talking about fire stations here.
Mike Wallace, chief of Largo Fire Rescue, and a good hard-working fellow, points out that one station, Number 42, was built in 1979 and because of its use has undergone lots of wear and tear.
Wait a minute. That building is only 30 years old. There are lots of homes around here from that recent time that eat, sleep and park vehicles. And the fire station does not have the wear and tear that children impose on a dwelling.
Wallace says the building is used 24 hours a day – just like a 30-year old home. And he points out that “plumbing repairs, electrical problems, environmental controls have seen significant increases over the years.” So what? Something is a little worn, so get rid of it? Can Largo afford that kind of attitude toward spending?
Wallace says that the “current structure is not compliant with current standards,” but says this is okay but underlines the fact that communal showers and bathrooms are not ADA (Americans for Disability Act) compliant.
Puhleeze. Don’t do it on my shoes and tell me it’s raining.
Why would these facilities have to be ADA compliant for fire fighters. If you are physically impaired you cannot be a fire fighter (or did I miss something here?).
Nota bene, amigos. We are in tough times.
The danger is that Largo officialdom could fall into the trap of that good Parisian lady who said, Qu’ils mangent de la brioche, and has suffered by reputation ever since.
Return to Current Edition