The Sun's April 20 editorial in regard to Haile Plantation residents' objections to the proposed Archer Braid Trial misinterprets our objections. We object not to the trail, but rather that it goes through our private property instead of the much shorter and much less costly route along Tower Road.
The route through our property will cost our residents increased monies for liability insurance and maintenance of the trail, while the shorter route along Tower Road does not infringe on private property and would cost about $1 million less.
Which route makes more sense?
Alan Mencher, Gainesville
I am a Haile Plantation resident very much in favor of bike trails. My questions about the Braid Trail going through our neighborhood are:
1. What is the benefit to bikers using this trail that it go through our neighborhood?
2. How many other private neighborhoods have this trail going through them?
3. What is wrong with this trail following Tower to Archer Road route?
4. Why are we as Haile residents just now being made aware of this project apparently after the decision has been made?
We have many bike trails here already, upkeep for which we pay dearly but gladly in order to ensure our neighborhood standards are met.
I hope county commissioners will be wise enough to allow Haile Plantation residents to offer their opinions on this proposal before continuing with the project!
Sylvia C. Mcleran, Gainesville
I an incensed by County Commissioner Susan Baird's remark: “I don't think anybody at all has any appetite for CHOICES in any form.”
I'm an “anybody,” and I invite the commissioner to join me at the three weekly Zumba Gold classes at the active senior recreation center. She will witness the other 60 to 70 “anybodys” exercising with a broad smile on our faces.
And how about those fabulous dentists, Dr. James Paladino and Dr. Bertram Hughes, who so willingly help those of us who couldn't possibly afford dental care? And the list of CHOICES' serious contributions to the well-being of our community goes on; which in turn provides healthier and more productive citizens.
Where has caring for people gone? We're talking about a quarter of a penny tax!
Who knows, it could be you needing CHOICES soon.
Glorida Ross, Gainesville
As I was reading the article that, now, dentists are wanting to levy a sales tax on CHOICES, I got rather disgusted.
We have added a firefighters tax, and the School Board levied a penny tax. Now it seems all interest groups think they can get more money just by increasing our taxes, whether it be in a sales tax or on our already high property tax.
When is going to end? I'm overtaxed and tired.
Ann Yohler, Gainesville
The last time gas prices spiked at $4 a gallon, in 2008, something else spiked as well: Bicycle sales and services.
And with gas prices on the rise again, cycling as an alternative means of transportation is likewise on the upswing.
"Conditions are ripe for an even bigger move to bicycling this year," argues the national advocacy group, Bikes Belong. "It is likely that the largest increases in bicycling due to high gas prices will happen in places where it is already easy and convenient to cycle; bike-friendly cities..."
Gainesville has long been rated Florida's most "bicycle-friendly" city by the League of American Bicyclists. And for more than a decade, Alachua County has had a bicycle master plan that envisions new and improved bike trails, bike lanes and sidewalks aimed at making cycling, and walking, even safer and more convenient in this university community.
The top priority in that master plan is the proposed Archer Braid Trail, which would eventually connect the suburban neighborhoods clustered along Archer and Tower Roads with the University of Florida and Gainesville's urban core.
To the extent that energy prices will likely continue to rise in the coming years, the case for completing the Archer Braid Trail will only grow stronger and more compelling.
It is no surprise that some residents of Haile Plantation would raise objections to the Archer Braid Trail running through their neighborhoods. The fear that bike trails will bring strangers, and crime, into neighborhoods is not uncommon, but for the most part such fears are unfounded.
On the whole, bicycle-pedestrian trails have been found to enhance, not detract from, the quality of life in neighborhoods and to improve property values. Indeed, a system of internal bicycle trails were incorporated into Haile Plantation's design from its very inception.
Of course county officials should work with concerned residents to ensure that trails are compatible with neighborhoods and designed with public safety in mind. But we urge the County Commission to stick to its master plan to make Gainesville and its surrounding suburbs ever more bicycle-friendly.
Because bikes belong in Gainesville ... and beyond.
It wasn't that long ago that Alachua County Commissioners were considering creation of a Community Redevelopment Agency for unincorporated east Gainesville as a way to finance infrastructure improvements and stimulate economic development there.
Ultimately, the commission rejected that idea. Now, apparently, commissioners are wondering if perhaps too many "county" tax dollars are being spent in CRAs inside Gainesville and other municipal boundaries.
No question that county government is having to pinch pennies like never before. But even in the name of fiscal exigency it would be a mistake for county government to begin to back out of its fiscal participation in CRAs. In Gainesville in particular CRAs have been a crucial agent for positive change in the city's economic and infrastructure destiny. The tax incremental dollars invested in the CRAs have made Gainesville's urban core more livable and economically viable.
Bottom line: The city residents who live inside the CRAs are also county residents. To the extent that CRA-financed infrastructure improvements enhance neighborhoods and business districts, municipalities and county government alike share in the benefits.
ALACHUA COUNTY - The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department is holding the 18th Annual Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway on Saturday, May 5, 2012, beginning at 8 a.m., at the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station (5125 NE 63rd Avenue, 2 miles north of 39th Avenue, off Waldo Road).
The recycled paint will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis and will be available in 5 gallon pails with six colors to choose from: off white, beige, gray, terra cotta, green and blue. There is a 10 gallon limit per resident.
The event will distribute 3,600 gallons of recycled latex paint to community organizations, civic groups and people with special needs, free of charge. The paint can be used for homes and businesses that cannot afford the cost of new paint. It is suitable for either interior or exterior usage. The latex paint is collected throughout the year by the Hazardous Waste Program and shipped to a paint manufacturer where it is blended and repackaged into a 75% post consumer paint.
"A total of over 62,000 gallons of recycled paint has been provided to Alachua County residents since the inception of the program in 1994" said Kurt Seaburg, Hazardous Waste Coordinator for the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. "The program began as a means of assisting homeowners and agencies beautify their property while recycling a product that still has value. The program has been highly successful and quite popular with County residents."
For any resident that is not able to attend the event, non-recycled free paint of varying quality and quantity which is dropped off by residents who no longer need it is available at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center's Recycle/Reuse Area. Residents can pick up some of this paint and other household products during normal business hours: Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.
For more information about the Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway, contact the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center at 352-334-0440.
And if Vernon Sawyer and others at Alachua County Animal Services have their way, these three tabbies — a tuxedo, a tomcat and a calico — and many other cuddly felines now housed at the facility will get one.
To make that happen, Sawyer is trying to make the county's animal services shelter a better place for animals and one that is marketing them as effectively as possible to potential new owners.
Sawyer who serves as Animal Service's acting director, has been working with other employees, rescue groups, the University of Florida and volunteers.
"Some people feel like they've got to keep everything closed. We have to put the animals out there. They need to be talking about us," Sawyer said.
For Sawyer, that means getting the word out about pets who need homes through Facebook and email and working closely with rescue groups or holding and publicizing workshops and clinics related to animal services.
It also means trying some different ideas, which along with renovations and a new air-conditioning system, will help the animals be more comfortable and maybe more appealing to people looking for a pet.
Also, Sawyer is looking into the possibility of relaunching a foster pet program (a temporary home for animals), which Animal Services in Alachua County hasn't had for about a year.
With all of the different programs and renovations, Sawyer is hoping to make a serious dent in the number of animals that must be euthanized when the facility reaches maximum capacity.
"I would like to cut the euthanasia rate in half in the next six months," Sawyer said.
Animal Services has seen a downward trend in pets brought to the facility and the number of animals that must be euthanized over the past nine years, according to figures Sawyer emailed to county commissioners several weeks ago. In comparison, the number of animals adopted, including pets that find new homes through adoption guarantee or rescue organizations, has risen.
But Sawyer said the facility off Northeast 53rd Avenue continues to house an average of 400 to 600 animals a month, more during certain times of the year when litters of kittens and puppies tend to be born.
The main problem, Sawyer said, continues to be that people do not spay or neuter their pets. Then, when an unwanted litter is born, they bring in not only the newborns but the mother as well, who they blame for "getting herself pregnant."
Sawyer met Monday with volunteers who help care for the shelter animals to talk with them about the possibility of a foster pet program. The idea has yet to be approved by the county.
Another program Sawyer expects to start soon will involve giving dogs at the shelter treats when they are well-behaved. Sawyer said employees plan to have bags of treats available near the dogs' kennels. The food will be used to reinforce and encourage good behavior, which will help keep the dogs calm, improve their socializing skills and, hopefully, make them more adoptable.
Next month, on May 5, an open house called "Cinco de Meow" is being planned for the facility so people can see renovations, such as a more cat-friendly adoption area.
The area, near the front where visitors enter, has two large cages the size of small rooms where three or four cats will generally be housed. Other cages are smaller than the room-size models but still larger than an ordinary enclosure. These are created by removing dividers between two cages or making a cat-size hole between the cages so cats can crawl back and forth between the spaces. Sawyer also pointed out "cat condos," where a separate space is created for litter boxes and a cat can climb up and down or perch on a shelf and look down on people passing by.
When renovations were planned for the building, Sawyer said it was decided to look at what else could be done to help the animals and promote adoptions. People with UF's veterinary program like Dr. Brian A. DiGangi reviewed the area and proposed some of the changes like the condos, Sawyer said.
The larger cages and condos make it easier for the cats to move around, which can make them more comfortable, less stressed and calmer around people seeking to adopt.
All the changes and ideas are part of making animal services a better place that will continue to reduce the number of animals that must be euthanized.
"We are an open-admission facility," Sawyer said. "To become a no-kill facility, it's going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of cooperation with rescue groups and the public. But I want us to get as close as possible. I would love to see the day that we become one."