TAMPA — Downtown merchants learned Wednesday that daytime traffic is likely to be heavier on the first day of the Republican National Convention and that they'll have to make temporary plans for their garbage.
Although the RNC's big event on Aug. 26 is scheduled for Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Tampa police Chief Jane Castor told business owners that Tampa might still see some activity on that Sunday.
The weekend before NATO met in Chicago, she said, many local residents went out to see the setup for the summit, so Tampa officials wouldn't be surprised to see same kind of turnout here.
The next day, Aug. 27, will likely be the day that Tampa sees the biggest impact, Castor said.
"On Monday, there's going to be a double session of the RNC," she said.
As of Wednesday, the convention, which has not released its schedule for the week, hadn't confirmed that statement. While the RNC is mainly an evening event, an afternoon session would put more delegate buses on downtown streets during the day.
During a Wednesday meeting organized by the Tampa Downtown Partnership, a couple of restaurateurs asked whether they will have to remove furniture from the sidewalk.
Castor said police aren't giving anybody that kind of order, but she suggested securing pieces of furniture together so that, for example, a chair couldn't be snatched up by a protester and used to smash a window.
And if police feel that protest "energy" is moving toward a particular business, officers could give instructions to bring the furniture inside.
For similar reasons, city waste officials said they're changing garbage pickup in downtown during the convention.
Officials plan to collect businesses' city-issued 95-gallon garbage carts on Aug. 17 and store them until they can be returned on Sept. 1, after the convention.
In the meantime, businesses will be asked to take garbage to groups of six to eight receptacles to be put at two yet-to-be-announced locations in northern and southern downtown.
Wheels on rolling Dumpsters will be locked during the convention so protesters cannot set them on fire and use them as battering rams, which happened at the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.
And some trash containers on the sidewalk, such as a solar-powered trash compactor near police headquarters, will likely be removed temporarily.
Richard Danielson can be reached at d[email protected] or (813) 226-3403.