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Few show at pitch for public input at controversial Riverview community center

RIVERVIEW — A much-criticized community center's invitation to include more public input fell flat Wednesday when no local artists attended its inaugural arts task force meeting.

"I'm kind of disappointed, really," said Heather Stump-Ochalek, a member of the board that oversees the Regent in Riverview.

The Regent's board initiated the task force last month as part of its response to concerns from residents and elected officials about the event venue's allocation of public funds and its availability to community groups.

But of the estimated 20 to 30 people invited to Wednesday's meeting, just three showed up — all local fixtures, but none artists.

They suggested the Regent host an annual arts event but said the opinions of community artists, singers and dancers were badly needed.

Board member and architect Antonio Amadeo, who led the group with Stump-Ochalek, said he will schedule another meeting next month. Amadeo and Stump-Ochalek, who owns Music Showcase in Brandon, plan to visit arts organizations' meetings to recruit more people to the task force.

The board has also scheduled its first quarterly public meeting at 5:30 p.m. June 23, said board attorney Marshall Rainey.

Last week, the Hillsborough County Commission ordered an audit to examine the Regent board's spending of $7 million in state, federal, community college and county money. The building qualified for tax money because it includes classrooms and can double as an emergency shelter.

The Regent's board agreed in May to repay $20,000 to Hillsborough Community College, which owns the building and holds two seats on the board.

That portion of HCC's $750,000 original payment went toward the facility director's salary instead of to land and construction costs as specified in a contract, said college spokeswoman Ashley Carl.

Few show at pitch for public input at controversial Riverview community center 06/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 11:20pm]
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