Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Business

Community touts ferry idea, but will it play in SouthShore?

APOLLO BEACH — While civic leaders applauded a proposal to start a passenger ferry service between southern Hillsborough County and MacDill Air Force Base, some SouthShore residents offered mixed reviews on the proposal.

Community leaders see people commuting on high-speed ferries on the bay rather than clogging local roadways. They envision people moving to SouthShore communities so they can ride the boats to work. And, they visualize ferries eventually transporting people from Tampa and St. Petersburg to tourist venues in the SouthShore area.

"I think it's a great idea," said Sandy Council, a Ruskin resident and president of the Ruskin Community Development Foundation. She was one of about 40 people, mainly civic leaders, who attended a meeting at the Waterset development where the project was unveiled. "I think it's an innovative way of moving people."

HMS Ferries Inc. officials and lawyer Ed Turanchik, a former Hillsborough County commissioner, said the plan is to start a ferry route somewhere along the Big Bend corridor to MacDill because a large number of people who live in the southern part of the county work at the Tampa military base.

Turanchik said the plan is also to use the boats to transport people to attractions, such as the Florida Aquarium in Tampa and Rays baseball games in St. Petersburg.

"It's fast, it's easy, it's beautiful," Turanchik said.

A typical commute is 22 to 35 miles each way. A trip across the bay is about 6 miles, Turanchik said. He said the ferries would save travel time, take cars off congested roadways and reduce pollution.

"Our roadway network is hopelessly stretched," Turanchik said.

Turanchik said Tampa, St. Petersburg and the SouthShore communities could all benefit with a boost in tourism.

HMS officials and Turanchik held meetings in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Apollo Beach throughout Wednesday. Turanchik, who is leading the project and got HMS involved, said they are trying to see if there is interest in the ferry service in the area.

Some residents peppered the group on the project's cost. Some said the project seems to mostly benefit MacDill employees, yet county, state and federal dollars would be needed to fund the project.

Turanchik said it is proposed as a public-private partnership. HMS would cover the operational costs at about $3.5 million per year. The other costs, estimated at $11 million to $18 million, for the catamarans, docks, terminals, waterways, parking and trams, would fall to the county. The costs would rise if the project expanded.

Ann Waggoner of Apollo Beach was intrigued but not sold on the idea. She said she needs more details on the financing and ferry routes. She also questioned if the boats could handle the area's volatile thunderstorms. And, she wondered if people, herself included, would pay $5 to take a boat.

"It's an interesting idea," Waggoner said. "Obviously, models worked in other places. I just want to look after our tax dollars. You just want to make sure it's been well thought out."

Claudia Davidsen, a resident of Ruskin, completely supports the plan. The former schoolteacher said it would be a boon for southern Hillsborough County. People will want to relocate here. She said she would take the ferry.

"It's just such a smart thing," she said. "I think the community will be stimulated by this."

Ron Simpson, president of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, likes what he has heard so far. Ferries do work, he said.

Simpson took a ferry to work in the 1960s while employed with the U.S. Navy in Washington. He also has taken ferries while on vacation in Delaware.

Simpson said MacDill employees will benefit initially. But, SouthShore could reap rewards when residents from Tampa and St. Petersburg hop a boat to visit here. The area is packed with festivals and tourist venues, such as the Manatee Viewing Center.

"Personally, I love the idea," he said.

Monica Bennett can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Birchwood owner will open a three-story restaurant and bar at St. Petersburg pier

Birchwood owner will open a three-story restaurant and bar at St. Petersburg pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Chuck Prather, owner of the Birchwood in St. Petersburg, returned from his daughter’s Maine wedding this week with an exciting announcement of his own. On June 7 the St. Petersburg City Council is expected to sign off on him being on...
Updated: 5 hours ago
St. Petersburg’s Jabil expands in Israel with new innovation center

St. Petersburg’s Jabil expands in Israel with new innovation center

St. Petersburg-based contract electronics company Jabil announced Wednesday it has expanded in Israel by opening an Optics Technology Innovation Center.The 6,560-square-foot complex is in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. "Our Optics Innovation Cen...
Updated: 7 hours ago
New restaurants on the horizon: Metro Diner and Zoes Kitchen in Tampa, Trophy Fish and Oak & Stone in St. Pete

New restaurants on the horizon: Metro Diner and Zoes Kitchen in Tampa, Trophy Fish and Oak & Stone in St. Pete

OPEN NOW: BAHAMA BUCK’SFeel a shiver? Just in time for Florida’s sultry summer, Bahama Buck’s opened this week in Trinity with an avalanche of sno. The 2,346-square-foot island-inspired shop opened at 8815 Mitchell Blvd. with more than 91 flavors of ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lee Roy Selmon's original Tampa restaurant is closing, marking the end of an era

Lee Roy Selmon's original Tampa restaurant is closing, marking the end of an era

Lee Roy Selmon’s, the restaurant that paid homage to the community icon who rose to fame as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and grew to become a popular civic leader, will shutter the doors of its original location on Tampa’s Boy Scout Boulevard in...
Updated: 8 hours ago
At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

TAMPA — The name of the new Bay 3 co-working space at the Armature Works goes back to World War I, when the red-brick warehouse overlooking the Hillsborough River was the maintenance barn for Tampa Electric’s streetcar system.As the name suggests, it...
Published: 05/23/18
Comcast may outbid Disney for Twenty-First Century Fox

Comcast may outbid Disney for Twenty-First Century Fox

Associated PressPHILADELPHIA — Comcast may make an offer for Twenty-First Century Fox, potentially putting it in a head-to-head bidding war with Disney. Comcast Corp. on Wednesday did not provide specific details on a bid, other than to say that it w...
Published: 05/23/18
Brunch-based alcohol will be available at First Watch’s new Orlando location

Brunch-based alcohol will be available at First Watch’s new Orlando location

ORLANDO — The popular breakfast and brunch chain First Watch will be opening a new restaurant in Orlando that will add cocktails, beer and wine to the menu. The new concept restaurant, set to open on Memorial Day at 1448 N Alafaya Trail, will be 1,00...
Published: 05/23/18
Humana hiring 100 for phone sales, Medicare enrollment assistance

Humana hiring 100 for phone sales, Medicare enrollment assistance

Kentucky-based health care provider Humana is hiring 100 phone sales employees in Tampa Bay. The new hires will field sales calls and offer enrollment assistance for Humana’s Medicare plans and other products.The positions, which are being added to h...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Downtown St. Pete Ford’s Garage and Yeoman’s to open Wednesday

Downtown St. Pete Ford’s Garage and Yeoman’s to open Wednesday

ST. PETERSBURG — Ford’s Garage, a car junkie’s haven, has proven to be popular eatery across the state.Now it has a chance to drive customers to its seats in St. Petersburg. The restaurant opens its ninth location downtown Wednesday at 200 First Ave....
Published: 05/23/18
Target: New Tampa, Clearwater stores part of company-wide makeovers

Target: New Tampa, Clearwater stores part of company-wide makeovers

Target is renovating more than 1,000 stores by the end of 2020, including two SuperTarget locations in New Tampa and Clearwater.The Clearwater store’s makeover — which the corporation calls ‘‘reimagining" — just wrapped up, according to Target spoke...
Published: 05/23/18