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Tampa's compromise on Ybor's Seventh Avenue signs: Seventh Avenue, La Sétima and La Séptima

TAMPA — La Sétima or La Séptima?

The Tampa City Council decided Thursday to split the difference. Sort of.

Council members voted 5-2 to come up with a new resolution, this one putting up new signs along Ybor City's main strip with three names: Seventh Avenue, La Sétima and La Séptima.

That move would revise a council decision earlier this month to change the street signs' Spanish label from La Sétima to La Séptima.

The emotionally charged debate over the spelling has pitted grammatical purists, who say there should have been a "p" in the name all along, against historic preservationists, who argue La Sétima is an appropriate spelling and reflects Ybor's heritage.

Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin said nobody was wrong.

"Both spellings were correct. What was incorrect, there is no accent mark. In Spanish, the accent mark tells you how to pronounce the word," said Capin, who came up with the compromise and insisted the new signs have the correct accent marks.

"Will this solve this problem?" asked council member Frank Reddick, hopefully, after the council heard again from people on both sides of the issue.

"This is only the start," said council Chairman Charlie Miranda.

Voting against the compromise were Miranda and council member Lisa Montelione.

As part of an upcoming final vote on the compromise, the council will also likely agree to sell the old signs, according to Miranda.

The sale is an idea he earlier had proposed to reduce the cost, originally estimated at around $2,000.

Miranda, who was born in Ybor City, was the sole opposing vote earlier this year. On Thursday, Montelione joined him.

She said after the meeting that she thought having both names on the signs is too much. She said she changed her mind about switching the name at all after a constituent suggested the city leave the signs alone and put in a historical marker explaining the debate.

"Putting both on the signs is probably going to add to the costs," she said. She added that anyone who would make fun of the old spelling "is going to laugh even harder when they see both."

The controversy over what the street should be called goes back to the first immigrants of Ybor City a century ago, who rolled cigars, lived in shotgun shacks, stuck leftover ham and pork into the first Cuban sandwiches and played dominoes in social clubs like Centro Asturiano. Made up of Cubans, Spaniards, Italians and Germans, Ybor's first settlers had a language all their own.

Not quite perfect Spanish and certainly not perfect English, many had their own way of pronouncing things such as La Séptima, which many pronounced Sétima.

The compromise didn't leave the most ardent supporters on either side too pleased.

"The other side didn't prove its case," said Susan Clary, an advocate for keeping the old signs.

Tampa's compromise on Ybor's Seventh Avenue signs: Seventh Avenue, La Sétima and La Séptima 06/07/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 7, 2012 11:56pm]
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