Resident Protests City Policy on Palm Trash
By Vicki Jackson
The Clearwater Beach Association convened its board meeting on Tuesday, October 5, at the Beach Recreation Center. A modified agenda already was on the table; however, the abbreviated schedule was quickly amended when a citizen from the neighborhood arrived with an agenda of his own. When some time to speak was requested, all eyes and ears tuned in. A visibly upset Charles Shank vowed he would go to the Commission with his complaint, but first wanted to share it with, and seek the support of, the CBA.
Specifically, it has everything to do with the removal of palm fronds from private property. Normally, such trash is collected at curbside, as part of the standard residential package of fees-unless someone else has been paid to trim the trees. When the north beach resident of over half a century had such an occasion, he was charged an additional fee for a special pick-up of the fronds. In theory, it might be said that he paid for the service multiple times: first, in the regular monthly municipal fee; second, in included charges of the landscape company; and third, in the special collection charge then levied by the city. He maintained that it shouldn't matter who does the cutting or how it gets done, that removal of the resultant litter has already been covered in the normal trash-hauling rate. Adding insult to injury, the palms he maintains include the ones the city planted years ago, over his objections. He recalled that the city reneged early on in its responsibility for keeping their trees trimmed.
Some board members voiced agreement with Shank's objections. Another suggested that when a landscaper applies for a permit from the city, it is understood by all that they are responsible for removing the trimmings from the residences they service. That has always been my understanding of the rule, but how often is it followed, and what and where are the repercussions? To carry it a bit further, what about all the grass trimmings that are routinely blown into the streets? Shank certainly has a point, and one might wonder how employees in the city's trash trucks could be expected to know which pile is okay for them to collect, and that which is not. It will be interesting to see how and if these matters are addressed.
Another guest, Officer Michael Williams of the Clearwater Police Department, gave an update on local crime activity. He said the crime trend is down, with no specific concerns. He attributed that success, in large part, to the department's promotion of increased visibility of police officers. In response to last month's report about ongoing vandalism to area sea oats, particularly from beach wedding parties, he indicated that some research had been done. A pamphlet will be distributed and serve to educate both officers and the public as to the illegality of and penalties for removal of the protected species. A board member observed that one of the biggest problems is not from residents, but from beach visitors with dogs. He has observed frequent instances of the animals being turned loose to tear through the flagged nesting sites in the sand dunes.
In other business, a tentative slate of new board members was presented by nominating committee spokesman, Ron Delp, and accepted. Pat Power gave an encouraging report on the progress being made by the pool and recreation center advisory committee. They are moving toward presentation of a business plan for utilizing the beach pool as a year-round operation, and have met with the City of Clearwater's Kevin Dunbar, Director of Parks and Recreation. Planned is the installation of a solar heater, with a gas supplement, and a mechanized cover, to develop the facility into an attraction for use beyond the current March to August schedule. Heads will gather to consider the current budget, make proposals for what could be done with the site, and how it might be promoted and accomplished. Rosemarie Swisshelm, representative to the Beach Chamber of Commerce, said of the group, "They are really behind the pool."
That portion of the board meeting was then curtailed, to allow for extensive discussion of its by-laws, but not before it was announced that the CBA would again host a Halloween party. Volunteers were solicited to staff the family-friendly celebration, which will be held at the Beach Recreation Center on Thursday, October 28. Details will follow.
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