Letters to the editor

Published: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 at 5:39 p.m.

YMCA, fitness centers

have nothing in common

I read with great interest the article concerning the YMCAs and the health clubs and the ensuing letters. I am a member of both the YMCA and the Gainesville Health and Fitness Center.

I can't help but believe they are comparing apples to aardvarks. They are not the same in who they serve or how they serve them. They have one similarity in this community and that is the fitness aspect.

Fitness (defined as working with weighted machines and aerobic classes) is the primary function of GHFC, while fitness is just a small part of the YMCA. I have not spent much time at GHFC lately because it is not a family-friendly atmosphere.

It is not hostile to families, but it does not cater to them. Children under 12 are not allowed the use of the facility and there are no programs for children.

I have spent my time at the YMCA because it is a very friendly family atmosphere. I have been able to coach my two sons, ages 4 and 5, in soccer and T-ball, with their first basketball season coming up. I am not able to do that through GHFC.

The YMCA regularly gives out scholarships to children who would not be able to participate any other way. I dare say that Gainesville Health and Fitness Center owner Joe Cirulli gives away free memberships, for more than a month, on a regular basis.

It would not be good business for him to do so. He is in this to make a profit. The YMCA is not in the business to make a profit.

They are in it to serve the community and the money made goes back into the YMCA to help fund countywide recreation programs for both youth and adults and summer camps that bring the events at the YMCA to those who cannot make it to one of their locations.

The people who Cirulli has a complaint with are the local city and county commissioners who have created an unfriendly business atmosphere with too high taxes.

They have no complaint with the YMCA because, while there may be some overlap of services, they are vastly different organizations that provide much different services.

John Moss,


Sen. Yulee instrumental

in formation of area towns

I was pleased to see the recent article regarding the historical significance of the railroad to Gainesville's formation and early prosperity.

However, I was struck by the absence of any mention of David L. Yulee, the president of the Florida Railroad Co.

This omission does a great disservice to an individual whose business and political accomplishments not only gave rise to Gainesville, but a string of additional towns as well.

Waldo, Bronson, Starke, Cedar Key and Gainesville should join the city of Archer in its annual tribute to Sen. Yulee, for without the Florida Railroad, none of these communities would have existed.

Furthermore, as president and general manager of the railroad, it was Yulee's decision to bypass the established towns of Newnansville and Micanopy and to lay the tracks between them, thus giving rise to Gainesville.

During the Civil War, the new town also gained importance after Yulee transferred company headquarters to Gainesville following the capture of Fernandina by Union forces.

I also take issue with Dr. Ben Pickard's characterization of the original impetus behind the railroad. "The big plantation people in the area" that Pickard refers to were very few in number and political power resided elsewhere in the state.

The true reason for the railroad's existence was Yulee's visionary business plan. His intention was to link the Atlantic and the Gulf for the first time, an achievement that was likened to the Erie Canal.

Yulee's concept was to create "an extended wharf" that would allow shipping interests between New Orleans and New York to transport their cargo by rail rather than sail the dangerous Florida Straits.

Unlike other railroad projects in the antebellum South, Yulee was not focused exclusively on regional interests but attracted investment with the promise of interstate and even international commerce.

After the Civil War, Yulee succeeded in repairing major damage to the railroad and it became a vital component in the development of North Florida.

Ironically, his enterprise never achieved success as an interstate hub and it ultimately proved its worth as regional transport. This, however, was not Yulee's primary intention nor was it the motivation behind the initial funding.

In regard to the locomotive on Gainesville's logo, it strongly resembles the logo of the original Florida Railroad Co., examples of which are to be found among the Yulee Papers at the University of Florida's Yonge Library of Florida History.

The wheel type known as 4-4-0 was indeed the same as all six of the railroad's locomotives.

Chris Monaco,


America's problems

now belong to Bush

George W. Bush has been the top man in our government for two years. We expect him to deal with the myriad problems that are the responsibility of his position.

When told by this administration that a previous administration is to blame for this, that and the other, this may or may not be true.

However, pointing the finger backward does not help solve the problem, it only detracts from dealing with the issue.

Enough about how Clinton is the cause of the problem. Clinton is gone from power. Bush now has to deal with the problems. It's his responsibility.

Bob Clark,


Board members look familiar

By the political cast of those appointed to the Board of Governors for the new university governance system, Gov. Jeb Bush has, effectively, thumbed his nose at the almost 3 million Floridians who, on Nov. 5, voted overwhelmingly to pass Amendment 11 to the Florida Constitution.

His appointees to that board, which is the body responsible for implementing Amendment 11, represent only the party faithful and those who went all out to defeat it.

Phil Handy, chairman of the Florida Board of Education, and Jim Horne, secretary of Education, both Bush appointees, have been saying all along that little would change with the passage of Amendment 11.

Now Horne will be serving on the Board of Governors and is in a position to help ensure his predictions are correct. Also appointed was Carolyn Roberts, who chaired the political action committee created to oppose Amendment 11. Her PAC conducted a highly negative campaign, which included in its advertising some outright misrepresentation of facts.

The governor obviously ignored my plea to appoint at least token representation from those who worked so hard for the amendment. Those most familiar with it know what must be done to implement it properly.

Besides, their appointment would have sent a positive message, not only to those who voted for the amendment, but also the public at large. Gov. Bush, however, seems to have little interest in reaching out to those who disagree with him.

The governor's appointees are, in the main, good people, but can they be expected to implement the amendment in good faith, given the fact that so many of them have a well-documented record of being so strongly opposed to it?

The actions of the Board of Governors will be carefully monitored to see if they follow what appears to be the governor's intent to do little to implement Amendment 11 or will they be seriously committed to giving Florida a non-politicized, high quality university system.

Finally, it's worth noting that three of the governor's appointees to the new Board of Governors are former chairs of the Board of Regents. It makes one wonder whether the Regents were really that bad after all.

Or were they abolished, because they wouldn't approve expensive university programs that powerful legislators wanted, but which the Regents found were not needed? The answer is obvious.

E.T. York,

chancellor emeritus,

State University System of Florida,


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