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Commissioners, can you throw us a bone

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On the revisiting of the barge canal boat ramp, it’s looking more like a backroom sweetheart deal is going on.

Special interests and Crystal River officials were never in favor of the canal ramp. Since two commissioners who were strong supporters of it are gone, the current commissioners saw a chance to reverse its location to Crystal River or Homosassa. It was no surprise with Mr. Smith. His six years as a state representative has been a hallmark of special interest deals, but it appears that Mr. Kinnard is a fan of legislation in favor of such deals also. In a Chronicle op ed last week, he dazzled us with facts and figures to show us what a smart businessman he is. One of his facts is that each boat launch generates $90 in business.

Chew on these these facts, Mr. Kinnard: There are nearly 50,000 watercraft registered in Citrus County. I belong to three outdoor clubs, one being the Citrus Fishing Club. We have everything from 13-foot kayaks to 30-foot center consoles, and rarely do we generate $90 per launch. So I assume that we will get little representation from Commissioners Smith and Kinnard for the next four years.

Last fall, my wife and I drove down to Collier County to see friends. Knowing my love of the water and fishing, one of them drove us along the Gulf. In the middle of nowhere was a boat ramp. It looked fairly new and it was beautiful — double ramps, dockage, sanitary facilities, parking for 100-plus trailers. I asked him what the story was with this ramp. He said it was here when they moved to the area, but he thought it was built after three hurricanes crossed over Collier County in 2005. But why here? He believed that this spot was used by kayakers and car-top boaters for years, so when they were going to build a new ramp to take pressure off the one downtown, this was their first choice.

Who would of “thunk” it, I said — siting a public facility at a location where the largest amount of the public could use it? Yeah, he said, every once in a while they throw us a bone. The following is the ending paragraph of an editorial by Karl Wickstrom (the editor of one of Florida’s premier outdoor magazines). It’s not about boat ramps in particular, but his thoughts about our officials towards Florida sportsmen in general.

“Whether the perceived momentum keeps building depends on how strongly the public demands that our outdoors be managed for the greatest good of the general public rather than for narrow special profit interests. Shouldn’t we insist on sound leadership?”

So how about it, Commissioners Carnahan, Kitchen and Coleman? Throw us a bone.

Fred Stratton

Beverly Hills