Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Opposition turns out for meeting on Tampa light rail plan

NEW TAMPA — For the past month, members of a grass roots campaign traveling throughout the county to drum up support for a penny sales tax referendum have been greeted with nodding heads and smiling faces.

At the New Tampa Library on Wednesday night, the tone was markedly different.

About half of the two dozen people who attended the informational meeting expressed outrage over the tax, saying the light rail that will come with the tax's passage is not the answer to the area's transportation woes.

They came from as far south as Apollo Beach and as far west as Carrollwood to disapprove of the initiative, which they felt would not benefit them.

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and Chuck Sykes, president and chief executive of Sykes Enterprises and chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce — two of the campaign's biggest advocates — tried to convince opponent otherwise.

They got nods from proponents who said Tampa is far behind other metropolitan cities because it lacks an effective transportation system. And they tried to temper feelings of outrage from opponents.

"I thought it was very constructive," Davis said. "We've been to meetings with 60 people, and it was very quiet. I think it's very exciting."

Those against the measure argued that they shouldn't have to pay for light rail that they felt would not be used.

"Rail is such a loser, it only runs at a loss," said John Hendrix of Carrollwood.

Sharon Calvert of Lutz called light rail ineffective and questioned whether it benefits the regional economy.

But members of the campaign, Moving Hillsborough Forward, say it's not all about rail. It's about road improvements and a beefed-up bus system, too.

The countywide measure would let voters decide whether to raise the sales tax by one penny to fund major investments in bus, rail and roads, with revenue protected in a trust fund.

Light rail will bring jobs, boost the local economy, improve the quality of life and change the perception of Tampa as a tough city to get around in, Sykes said.

"We must be enablers for building the community," Sykes said. "We've got to start making things happen."

Tampa City Council member Joseph Caetano, who lives in New Tampa and was at the meeting, said residents in this northeastern pocket of the county are split on the measure.

"I hear a lot of negative, but I also hear a lot of 'I can't take these roads anymore,' " Caetano said. "I can't say if I'm going to vote for it or not. But we do need some type of relief."

And the pain will just be compounded in years to come if nothing is done now, said Bob Fiallo, who lives in Wesley Chapel's Seven Oaks community.

"I may not live to see light rail, but it's about what it's going to do for my kids and my grandkids," Fiallo said. "It's important to look at the overall picture."

Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813)909-4613 or [email protected]

Opposition turns out for meeting on Tampa light rail plan 06/23/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 24, 2010 7:58am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump issues warning to McCain after senator's 'half-baked' comment (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a warning shot after Republican Sen. John McCain questioned "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in America's foreign policy, saying "people have to be careful because at some point I fight back."

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, accompanied by Chair of the National Constitution Center's Board of Trustees, former Vice President Joe Biden, waves as he takes the stage before receiving the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The honor is given annually to an individual who displays courage and conviction while striving to secure liberty for people worldwide. [Associated Press]
  2. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code

    Banking

    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  3. A punter is the state's only first-team, midseason All-American

    Blogs

    Here's another indictment of how mediocre the state's college football season has become.

  4. Fred Ridley on the Road to Augusta

    Blogs

    Last week, I sat down with Fred Ridley, the new chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. Ridley, a lawyer who has resided in Tampa since 1981, was the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion and is the only Chairman to have played in the Masters. I wrote a long story on Ridley, but here are some of the other …

    Fred Ridley, looks on during the Green Jacket Ceremony during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament in April at Augusta National Golf Club.
  5. Tampa police link two shootings, tell Seminole Heights residents to avoid walking alone

    Crime

    TAMPA — One was a 22-year-old African American man. The other was a 32-year-old white woman.

    A small memorial sits in the grassy lot on East Orleans Avenue in Seminole Heights where 32-year-old Monica Hoffa's body was found Friday. Hoffa had been shot to death, and Tampa police say they believe her killing is related to the shooting death of Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22, at a bus stop near N 15th Street and E Frierson Avenue on Oct. 9. There are no clear motives, however, and police have asked to residents to be on the lookout for anything suspicious and avoid traveling alone at night. JONATHAN CAPRIEL/Times staff