Resident issues challenge to raise cash for upgrades
Charner Reese can remember learning how to swim at the Davis Islands pool when she was a kid. Now she's asking her neighbors to join her to make sure the pool is taken care of.
At the Davis Islands Civic Association's meeting on Nov. 12 she issued a challenge. If area residents can raise $5,000 in six months, Reese will match the amount to total the $10,000 required to open and maintain a community account for capital improvements.
Once the account is open, neighbors can start raising money to help finance improvements on the island.
Among improvements Reese hopes to help the city pay for are a community recreation center and greenways. She would also like to see the pool, which she says was built in the 1920s, restored.
"I want to make sure that these places are preserved and maintained for future generations," she said.
Leaders of the Civic Association have dubbed the fundraising goal "Charner's challenge."
Civic Association president Lisa Devitto said the challenge came as a surprise and was well-accepted at the meeting. She considers the program important and hopes residents will meet the challenge.
"When she presented it, there was an audible gasp in the room," she said.
EPA lauds 2 buildings for conservation
Two downtown buildings have been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for adherence to energy conservation and efficiency.
The County Center and County Annex Court buildings both received an Energy Star award from the EPA. The Water Department's administration building is the only other structure maintained by Hillsborough County to share the distinction. It was awarded the rating in 2001. More than 70 buildings statewide have been recognized.
County Energy Manager Randy Klindworth says the award is the result of a new focus on energy conservation, which saves the county money.
"Its a huge thing to be able to qualify for Energy Star," he said.
Combining central control of newly balanced air-conditioning with retro-fitted lights and occupancy detectors has reduced the power usage in both buildings.
The County Center scored a 93 out of 100 possible points on the Energy Star survey while the older County Annex scored an 82.
"It's hard to get over a 90; not many buildings get that high," Klindworth said.
Committee formed to deal with homeless
The Palmetto Beach Community Association has formed a committee to deal with the homeless population that some neighbors say is a nuisance.
"This is a good neighborhood. There are just small issues that detract people that have families from the neighborhood," said Andrew Stone, the committee's head.
The association brought in representatives from the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County and the city to address the problem and to help kick off the start of the new committee.
Rayme Nuckles, CEO of the Homeless Coalition, says the focus needs to be on helping the homeless rather than just arresting or removing them.
Hillsborough County has the largest population of homeless people in the state, with nearly 10,000.
"Until the community starts working on this as a group, they're not going to see any significant changes," he said.
Previously neighbors would call the police if they saw the homeless loitering or trespassing, but there is little the officers could do.
"If they're breaking the law, we do what we can," Tampa police Lt. Bobbie Holder said. "We don't want to harass them just to harass them."
Stone says he realizes the neighborhood will never be without homeless people, but the issue has never before been addressed by the Civic Association.
"No one has complained, and it's gotten out of hand," he said. "It's a matter of respecting the neighborhood."
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