Mayor Expounds on Honeymoon Island Park Fracas

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August 11, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Editor's Note: Dave Eggers, mayor of Dunedin, Fla., wrote this letter which was posted on the website.

I wanted to take this opportunity to comment on the recent grass roots effort to oppose the proposed RV camping plan for Honeymoon Island. I am personally happy that the plan was removed from consideration, primarily because there was no apparent involvement by the community on the development of the plan and RV camping on Honeymoon Island seems contradictory to the mission of the Island. I am also incredibly impressed that so many people not only have a passion for the park but got involved to let their feelings be known. Finally, with some exceptions, most people were receptive and cordial to the presentation and welcomed opposing viewpoints.

The State messed up because no one thought to involve local communities in the discussion and formulation of their camping plans for parks nestled within a community. Camping in parks seems to me a natural occurrence, and in fact, some type of camping is in over 33% of the parks in our state. I frankly don’t know if “primitive camping” (tents) should be allowed on some limited trial basis on Honeymoon Island, but because of the approach by the State, there never was a forum for such discussion. I believe the folks in the area not only weren’t asked but since then have lost confidence in who is making the decisions and what their motivations are. We need to have confidence that our voice does matter and not be afraid to rationally discuss the future of Honeymoon Island if ever we are called upon to engage again.

Many times, we in politics try to figure out reasons for people’s apparent apathy for involvement in their government, and yet, there was no shortage of passion and energy and involvement when the State proposed the RV park camping. I would ask you to find an area of your local community that elicits your interest and passion, and get involved for the betterment of the Dunedin community at large. We in City government are talking about updating a master plan for changes to Highlander Park and will have a second public meeting on August 17 to get residents’ input on the reorganization of facilities at the park. We have plans to build a new fire station, build a new concession stand for Little League and reorient some tennis courts, the nature center and more. All along, the basic principle is to focus on having recreational activities in this park and to keep as much open space as there is now, even if shifted around.

I would ask all of us to focus on how best to communicate thoughts, opinions and passion as it relates to “backyard” issues or any emotional issue at hand. During the Honeymoon Island event, most everyone was cordial, civil and polite. There were a few who could have taken lessons from the masses. Most want to hear all sides of an issue even if different than their own. We on the Commission often times need to remember to be civil with each other and have, in fact, discussed that at two Commission retreats. Most residents would implore that others in the community do the same on any public issue so that we have all the bases covered, and so that an atmosphere of mutual respect be fostered.

In short, congratulations Dunedin, Royal Stewart Arms, Pinellas County, elected officials, residents and neighbors for getting out and letting your voices be heard. We need that involvement now more than ever on other important issues in our community and at the state and federal levels. By the way, welcome back to school this month all the kids in our community and have a great year. God bless you and each of your families.

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