Monday, December 11, 2017
Editorials

Don't squander park on sketchy museum idea

If there is a worse idea for Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park than the half-baked scheme to put an arts and crafts museum on the downtown waterfront, the city has yet to hear it.

On Friday, the Palm Harbor-based Two Red Roses Foundation proposed building a $31 million American Craftsman Museum at Curtis Hixon. The nonprofit has one of the largest collections of arts and crafts in America, with everything from furniture to fine arts and pottery. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the project, which would include a museum and restaurant, would "further energize" the urban core and offer something "totally unique."

The proposal is unique, all right, in all the wrong ways. The city would hand over 1.2 acres of the park for $1 per year for 99 years. Tampa and Hillsborough County taxpayers would provide a $1 million annual subsidy for the first five years; the nonprofit also initially sought another $500,000 annually for every year thereafter. The city would also assume all site demolition and preparation costs, waive all impact fees and property taxes for the life of the museum, provide 30 free parking spaces and promise to help expedite a liquor license for an "upscale" restaurant on the riverfront.

It gets worse. Contrary to the city's claim that the museum would be "adjacent" to the park, the building would actually take over a significant chunk of park space. Curtis Hixon would lose the southern portion of the park, virtually all of its elevated benches and patio tables and what little tree canopy provides shade. Though Two Red Roses claims the building would act as an "urban frame" for the park, nothing could be further from reality. Clogging the park with another needless building would only leave a shotgun of green space to the river. It hems in the park experience with a cul-de-sac feel and cuts off one of the park's signature experiences, the sloping view of the historic and towering minarets across the river at the University of Tampa.

While discussions are continuing, this looks like a dream fishing for a home. The business plan calls for cramming the place with a tourist kiosk for the Chamber of Commerce, an office for the local branch of the architects' society and (what else?) a gift shop. None of these are needed at Curtis Hixon, and they would be a terrible waste of downtown's only meaningful park space. The park already includes two new museums that were shoehorned in along its northern edge. And the city has done a terrific job of drawing events to Curtis Hixon. Adding another museum on the opposite side of the park would convert the remaining open space into a wind tunnel and reverse the progress the city has made in opening up the riverfront. Tampa has too much invested in its public lawn to squander it on such an unfocused idea.

Comments

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasnít enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, itís looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the cityís dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17