North Pinellas School Bus Terminal
TO: The Editor
I am the Chairwoman for the Committee opposing the building of a North Pinellas School Bus Terminal north of SR #580 and east of McMullen-Booth Rd. The number of surrounding subdivisions that have joined with resident-owned Briar Creek Mobile Home Park has grown to nine, with over 2,000 signed petitions. Also joining us are the Pinellas County Chapters of The Sierra Club, The Native Plant Society and The Audubon Society. These homeowners and society members are Pinellas County residents and their voices want to be heard and taken seriously. How many petitions do we need to make them aware that this is a strongly opposed project?
The quality of life of our seniors is of paramount importance. I was amazed when talking to the Pinellas County Air Quality Dept. that not only has the County not built modeling or set up monitoring equipment to measure the airborne pollutants at the current south and mid-county bus terminals but had no intention of providing this equipment at the proposed terminal, even though it is in the backyard of 1,000 senior citizens and that 30 percent of these seniors ALREADY have asthma or other breathing conditions! In my opinion this is unthinkable. Is this the way that we would expect the County to look out for their senior residents? This is not the way, I would think that you would want your parents health issues looked after.
Another of the issues is traffic. I have a copy of the original Traffic Report and also a rebuttal by a Traffic Engineer to those reports. Any use at Rigsby Lane Rd off of McMullen-Booth Road will require a traffic light in order for the 300 buses, driver's cars and facility workers to enter and leave. This proposed light would be the 5th light plus a flashing yellow light at the fire station within 1 ½ miles. The quick answer would suggest that these lights could all be synchronized for a smooth flow of traffic. Synchronized lights are one thing, but what we are talking about is TRAFFIC VOLUME! I have personally seen emergency vehicles have to use the sidewalks or median strips to weave their way to accident sites or transport people to Countryside Hospital, which is also on this route. This was without the additional traffic, no matter how staggered it might be scheduled, of over 1,200 additional vehicles per day! Is the traffic volume high? Reading through the traffic report told me something that I'm sure anyone traveling this route already knows - the volume was over capacity two years ago!!
Briar Creek has received criticism in that we were granted our light at Briar Creek Blvd. and yet we are now saying the School Board shouldn't have one. In answer to this criticism I would say this. Briar Creek has been there since 1978 when McMullen-Booth Rd was a two-lane country road. As the years passed and the lanes widened to the current six, traffic increased more and more until the time came when our senior residents were in grave danger trying to exit or enter our Park and thus a light was asked for and given even though all the warrants were not in place. The School Board, on the other hand, would be asking for a light because THEY are increasing the volume of traffic. This is a big difference that I hope that you can see.
Did you know that Briar Creek has the only waterfall in Pinellas County? Did you know that the Preliminary Site Plan for the School Bus Terminal shows that concrete pavement ends only about 150 ft. from this Creek and any polluted water or oil could drain that way? Did you know that Briar Creek leads directly to Upper Tampa Bay only a few blocks away? Do you really want to take the chance, despite all of man's engineering assurances to the contrary, of polluting Tampa Bay or do you honestly think that this just couldn't happen!
This land will be developed at some point in time. This we know and will accept. However, we feel that this beautiful piece of woods deserves a more environmentally friendly use. This land does not deserve over 925 ft. of concrete pavement. This land does not deserve 30,000 gallons of underground diesel fuel storage tanks. This land does not deserve an almost four acre retention pond when another one already exists which has already breeched once and washed out two homes about 15 years ago. I had a bobcat in my yard last week-where will the animals such as gopher tortoises, bobcats, coyotes, barred owls, etc. go----along the 40 ft. strip of land that will be left as a buffer lane amid the noise and movement of vehicles? I doubt that. They will just go and once again another small part of wild Pinellas County will disappear, never to return.
Lastly, with budget cuts, the overhaul of School Choice and the closing of schools-is this the way voters would want money spent? Supt. Wilcox's standard statement that he would be saving $50,000 per month by having this terminal built sounds pretty good at surface level, but when the cost of 6-8 million dollars for the building of the terminal gets factored in that translates to about 10 years before any of that $50,000 per month savings is realized!! And that was last fall's cost. Another nine months have gone by and I'm sure that the cost of building has gone up from that figure!!
I'll close now telling you that our opposition is not going away as time goes on. It will only get stronger. We know that the School Board is dedicated to the best for Pinellas County's students and hope that when they discuss the bus terminal issue they will also consider yesterday's students ---the over 2,000 residents of Pinellas County in opposition to this terminal at this location. Remember, that just because you cannot find the right site, does not mean you should build on the wrong site!
Sharon Philyaw, Chairwoman Nobus Committee
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