Davenport Park Relocation To Aid Developer Makes Florida Tax Watch Turkey List

Florida Tax Watch has released its annual list of turkeys–questionable expenditures contained in the state budget–and wouldn’t you know it, a project related to another project mentioned in this space last year made the list.
That would be the $4 million proposed to relocate Lewis Matthews Park on the city’s east side. The park is named in honored of a former elected known for his support of youth sports facilities.
The reason city officials want to relocate the park is because the present location is in the way of a plan by The Cassidy Group, a Winter Haven development company. to extend Powerline Road northwesterly from its current terminus at South Boulevard to U.S. 17-92 near Bargain Barn Road.
That would allow for the development of some landlocked property Cassidy owns.
The road project which the Polk County Commission agreed last year to assist in funding in cooperation with three front corporations related to Cassidy, is already under construction.
The $4 million relocation project was discussed with Davenport officials in 2022. If the money in the budget remains, it would seemingly relieve Cassidy of having to front $2 million for the project costs and would be yet another subsidy for this whole development enterprise at taxpayer expense.
And some political leaders wonder why the public is skeptical of their performance.

Heat And Energy Topics At LULAC Meeting

Last weekend Latino residents from around Central Florida heard about environmental issues related to heat exposure and proposed utility rate increases,
The information came during an all-day conference in Haines City organized by the League of United Latin American Citizens that dealt with a number of issues ranging from voter registration to women entrepreneurs.
The audience heard that the major for-profit electric utilities that serve the area are poised to see a major rate increase in coming months.
The requests will be the topic of in-person and virtual public hearings before the Florida Public Service Commission.
Members representatives from the Alianza Center in Orlando discussed the impact of higher temperatures brought by climate change on communities.
They said the problem will worsen in coming decades and speculated at some point the heat will become so extreme it could deter tourists from visiting Florida.
The heat could also be devastating to people with health problems and people living from paycheck to paycheck that could face challenges from higher utility bills/
It is important, they said, for people in the various communities together and discuss how to become more resilient.
For more information on the Alianza Center, go to https://alianzacenter.org/ . To learn more about LULAC, go to https://lulac.org/ .

FDOT Plans Collier-Polk Trail Meetings

The Florida Department of Transportation is planning a series of open houses to provide information and get public feedback on a proposed 210-mile multi-use trail between Lakeland and Naples.

This is one of a number of regional trails that are in the planning stage around the state to promote ecotourism, connect towns and offer opportunities to visit heritage sites and sections of the Florida wildlife corridor.

The schedule for the meetings, which will run from 5 to 7 p.m. is:

–May 29: Hardee County Agri-Civic Center, 515 Civic Center Drive, Wauchula.

–May 30: Highlands Hammock State Park Recreation Hall, 5931 Hammock Road, Sebring.

–June 4: Florida Department of Transporation Conference Room, 801 N. Broadway Avenue. Bartow.

Hype Collides With Reality On Climate Stats

Once again some of the national media have trumpeted the claim that last month was the hottest ever,but local statistics belie that claim.

Accordiing to the National Weather Service,  April in Lakeland was either the 51st coolest or the 57th warmest  April on record.

Records dating to 1915 show there were warmer Aprils in 1922 and 1929.

In Bartow, whose weather records date to  1892, the hottest April so far occurred in 1908. This year ranked 82nd on the warming scale.

It may have been warmer somewhere, but local data do not indicate cause for alarm.

Frankly the data may lead people to wonder whether someone is cooking the books to promote their personal agenda.

Soon The Pretense Of Recycling Will End In Polk, But Costs Will Go Up Anyway  

Polk County has never been particularly enthusiastic about promoting recycling.

It was viewed primarily as an inconvenience  tied to state recycling goals that seemed to have gone by the wayside after Chinese officials decided a few years ago that they would no longer be the world’s garbage can.

On Oct 1, the end of curbside recycling in unincorporated Polk County  will become official. Some cities are expected to continue their service.

The word “Recycling” will no longer be part of the logo on county-funded  garbage trucks.

It is nice to see truth in advertising.

If you have cardboard boxes and steel and aluminum cans you want to get rid of, you will be on your own.

Glass, which has its uses where markets exist, has not been in the mix lately.

Ditto for plastic, which is pretty much unrecyclable, despite propaganda from the bottlers and the chemical industry you may see on television and other media.  

At a recent work session, county staffers discussed how they were going to try to inform the public about the end of recycling.

Probably what they ought to spend more time on is explaining why although the money-losing recycling program is going away, garbage rates that will appear on you tax bill will increase 63 percent and will increase annually from now on to keep up with inflation.  

The public is already starting to notice, according to posts on social media.

The budget hearings later this year could be interesting.

Gypsum Road Study? What Gypsum Road Study?

A bid by the Mosaic fertilizer corporation during last year’s session of the Florida Legislature to direct the Florida Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of using a waste product called phosphogypsum for road—building projects easily passed and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill.

The study was due to be completed by April 1 of this year, but so far there is no word on the study’s whereabouts.

The last we heard from an inquiry to a local legislator was that he is still waiting to hear from the folks at FDOT.

That’s not surprising.

This whole endeavor was more a political ploy than a practical engineering enterprise.

For one thing, it is not really a mystery whether the material, which is slightly radioactive and contains trace amounts of a number of toxic metals, was used to build a road.

It was used to build one on the outskirts of Fort Meade several years ago in a rural residential area next to an old phosphate pit.

Despite some of the talk about “radioactive roads” that might glow in the dark, University of Miami researchers examined whether the material used to build that road caused any problems and reportedly found none.

What this was really all about is the continual tug of war between environmental regulators and regulated industries over what is allowed and what is prohibited.

As things stand now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not allow wholesale use of phosphogypsum for roadbuilding, farming or any other use for which it is reportedly allowed to be used in other parts of the world.

The fertilizer industry would like to change the EPA ban  so that they could be relieved of the very expensive obligation of monitoring these stacks for the rest of time.

The problem is that over the decades these waste stacks have grown to the size of small mountains across the region’s landscape to the point that even if someone approved its use, the amount that would be economical to use—at some point transportation costs to job sites makes it uneconomical—it would hardly make a noticeable dent in the size of these stacks.

That practical aspect was never addressed in the superficial staff analyses that accompanied the debate on the bill.

The bottom line is that it really does not matter whether FDOT conducted the study or what it concluded.

Those stacks are not going anywhere.

Tom Palmer
Winter Haven

Check out my blog at Conservation News – Sierra Club – Ancient Islands Group

New Parking Area Opens At Marshall Hampton Reserve

A new parking lot has opened off Thornhill Road for Polk County’s Marshall Hampton Reserve.

The new lot is south of the old lot, which is now closed, and  just north of the Lake Lena Run Bridge.

The  old parking area and some of the land adjacent to it appears to be for sale as it will eventually be cut off from the rest of the site by the construction of the western leg of the Central Polk Parkway.

The new parking area appears to be closer to the portion of the Panther Point Trail south of the borrow pit.

For more information on this or other Polk County Environmental Lands sites, go to  www.polknature.com .