TAMPA — A city of Tampa online survey of the public's priorities for the next 18 months rated improving streets and easing flooding as the top priority of nearly 89 percent of respondents.
Nearly tied for second were police-community relations and transportation options, including light rail. Both were rated as important by nearly 75 percent of those surveyed.
The lowest priorities: additional workforce housing (32.3 percent) and keeping the Tampa Bay Rays in the area (39.4 percent).
Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he launched the survey last month to make sure he focuses "on as many of (residents') concerns as possible" during the 545 days he has left before leaving office April 1, 2019, due to term limits.
Buckhorn said he was not surprised by the results of the survey, which more than 2,040 people filled out.
"I will circulate that survey to all of our senior staff here and remind them that this is what people are thinking," he said.
Here's a sample of the hundreds of comments from respondents:
• "After Irma, storm drainage is even more on the forefront, but I have been reading as well as seeing the improvements that the city is making to help reduce flooding so thank you. I also think it is very important to make sure police and fire have new equipment and vehicles as well as making sure all roads in the city have street lights and sidewalks. I really would like to see the roadways resurfaced as many of the roads in Tampa are in great need of repaving and cleaning up."
• "We need retail and grocery options downtown."
• "City employees also need time to ready their families and pets for emergencies, especially those who have a 1st responder spouse (such as I do) or are a single parent."
• "Something needs to be done about retraining of police to respect rights of innocent citizens."
• "Better communication and cooperation with Hillsborough County for common goals."
• "Less regulations on builders and more leniency on grand tree removal. Permits are taking too long and the fees are outrageous."
• "Instead of building more parks in areas that are not that important, fix our storm sewers, improve our streets. Some of the places that always flood don't have enough openings to the sewer system and perhaps more retention ponds instead of two houses to every lot redeveloped."
• "We are so advanced in so many areas yet we fail on light rail which all cities that are movers and shakers have. I think conventions may dismiss us secondary to this deficiency."
• "All the identified issues you highlighted are important for the socio-economic development of the Tampa Bay area. The cultural arts could offer us a little more visibility."
• "Focus on mass transit!"
• "I love the great improvements to the city (river development, Curtis Hixon, etc) and always support funding for parks and schools. But any city of Tampa leader will lose support if flooding in S Tampa streets is not addressed."
• "I selected 'Neutral' on some very important issues just to make the point that addressing street flooding is critical for day-to-day lives. I am against TBX. I am against decreasing lanes on Bay to Bay. It will push traffic to smaller streets."
• "Put the Rays in Channelside and Ybor and you will be a legend!"
• "Let's not waste time and money on the Rays stadium. It is a distraction from bigger issues that are more deserving of funding."
• "Stronger leadership is needed to create a multimodal transportation network. The County Commission completely lacks the leadership, so a louder voice must come from the city. And please back off the support for TBN (TBX) in its proposed form. Let's push FDOT to dedicate serious money toward a rail system. A variable rate toll lane on I-275 is fine as part of a true multimodal system and as long as it does not widen the interstate footprint. It would cause irreparable damage to the fabric of the Tampa Heights, Ybor, and VM Ybor neighborhoods."
• "Downtown redevelopment has been very impressive during your terms and you deserve lots of credit for that. Public parks, entertainment, and livability have all improved, which in turn help create solid long-term economic development. In a broader context, though, I worry about the region's lack of economic diversity in the (eventual) event of the next recession. I think real estate is overvalued once again, and wages continue to be imbalanced against the cost of living."
• "Lower taxes!"
• "Don't be afraid to raise local taxes to pay off those long-term debts. Tampans need to learn that our taxes are relatively low compared to similar cities."
Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] Follow @Danielson_Times