LETTERS 10.17.12

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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 15, 2012
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Opinion
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Well, that’s just swale: a resident’s perspective

Dear Editor:
The article in Saturday’s edition of the Palm Coast Observer was thorough but really presents only the city’s perspective. As a homeowner, I’d like to offer a different perspective.

To begin with, let me be clear: I do not have a problem with swale systems in general, if they are properly maintained. The city’s swale system and associated driveway culverts lie within the city’s roadway right of way.

Nevertheless, the homeowner is expected to maintain the swale and driveway culvert. I would agree that it certainly is in the homeowner’s interest to do so; however, then it becomes problematic when downstream vacant lot swales are not maintained. Also, while the homeowner can keep the entrances and exits of culverts clear of buildup, over time the culverts can fill up because of the easily displaced soil in Palm Coast.

The Palm Coast swales are designed, according to the city, to have a drop of one inch per 80 feet; however, there are numerous areas where this is just not true. This is caused by a variety of reasons, among them being the easily displaced soil, which can change a one-inch drop after a large storm or series of storms.

Another reason is the long grass that grows in the swale because water remains in the swale for weeks in many areas after the rains have stopped and cannot be mowed.

Last, the city Public Works people who mow the swales in the areas of vacant lots typically blow the grass into the swale. These combine to negate the slope of the swales quickly.

The secondary or intermediate canals where the swales should drain are often not low enough to accept all the stormwater runoff. This is evident by the fact that these canals seldom have a significant volume of water after heavy rains.

As far as the semi-annual maintenance in each city section: while that may be true, there are areas that have not been touched for three years or longer.

I also understand the ponding that occurs; however, that should not last more than 3-5 days after the rains end, not 3-4 weeks or longer. When ponding last this long, it creates a safety and health hazard by providing a breeding area for mosquitoes (I hope we never see an outbreak of Dengue fever here like in South Florida) and drawing snakes out to feed (I had to have a four-foot Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake removed from my swale last month). Algae grow in long standing water, and the swales smell terrible.

I also understand that swale maintenance is expensive, but I find it hard to believe that the city cannot obtain grant funding to assist in this effort. It seems they have no problem obtaining funding for a tennis center that is seldom used, sidewalks to everywhere and used by just a small percentage of the population, and beautification of Palm Coast and Belle Terre Parkways. The city may get kudos for great public areas, but let the visitor drive through our neighborhoods with smelly, nasty looking swales and their opinion of the city will change. A real boost to our property values!

So swale maintenance is really about priorities — the safety and health of its citizens or the beauty of its underutilized sidewalks and tennis center. The more the city grows, the worse the problem will get. I think it’s time for the citizens of Palm Coast demand better.

Gary Dekay
Palm Coast

Public officials seem to think we need more trees, not a working drainage system

Dear Editor:
We don't need our drainage system fixed, we need more sidewalks, bridges and trees. Who care what our neighborhoods need as long as we look good?

That's what our public officials (our employees) think.

If the drainage system has to be fixed, they will just raise the taxes.

It’s time to vote them.

Ray J. Thomann
Palm Coast

FP&L leaves the option open to charge people more for power at peak times

Dear Editor:
Please ask Elaine Hinsdale, spokesperson for Florida Power & Light, what exactly she means when she says "We're just joining the rest of the country and the rest of the world in our upgrade."

If this technology is going to "put the power back in the hands of the people" (I didn't realize it ever left), then how does she explain her comment that while "time-of-use pricing models for electric rates, under which higher rates are charged for electricity used during peak hours" are a concern to the people, "currently, FP&L doesn't operate on this model, and switching isn't in the immediate plans"?

It sounds to me like time-of-use pricing with smart meters will be on the table in the near future. And if that's the case, I would have to conclude that FP&L will eventually be taking power out of peoples' hands. Both financially and literally, in some instances.

Timothy Hall
Palm Coast



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