This sketch gives you a feel for the effect of putting a building too tall on a parcel so small right next to the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. The Residences at the Riverwalk, which the Tampa City Council will consider next month, would rise at least as high as this illustration shows. Imagine the impact of plunking this 400-foot apartment tower down on a spit of land surrounded by five-story buildings. It would cut off the Straz Center for the Performing Arts from the rest of the cultural arts district. It would block the riverfront, crowd the main library into oblivion and give downtown a scattershot feel. There is a difference between adding to the urban village and creating an environment that drives people away by choking the remains of open, public space with concrete, cars and visual barriers. But that's exactly what this building would do, and over a life-span that could easily last a half-century. On Monday, the project goes to the Straz Center board of trustees. The board has no veto power over the project, but a strong message of opposition would send the right signal to City Hall....
Last year, Florida's Republican-led Legislature eviscerated growth management protections, shortchanged Everglades restoration and gutted local control over water policy.
Gov. Rick Scott was more than willing to go along. Yet since then, he has shown more interest in protecting Florida's environment by backing Everglades restoration and limited purchases of conservation land. And in the Florida Senate — where the BP oil spill rightly continues to cast a cloud over the prospects for near-shore drilling — there's interest in creating incentives for advancing renewable energy....
Observe that Bob Buckhorn is settling in nicely as Tampa's mayor, and political insiders are likely to respond with a wisecrack: No wonder, he's been practicing for 25 years. But that's not a fair measure of how the former mayoral aide and City Council member has spent his first six months in office.
Buckhorn stopped by the Times editorial board last week excited as a kid at Christmas. In a 60-minute conversation that he could have extended for hours, he ticked off a dizzying agenda, from improving the economic climate and remaking parks to preparing for the Republicans' 2012 convention. ...
The meeting did not go well. Pam Iorio, just weeks after taking over as mayor in April 2003, wanted an update on plans for Tampa's new arts museum. She was looking for assurances that the $30 million in city money that her predecessor, Dick Greco, pledged to the project would be money well spent.
But Iorio walked away from a session with top museum officials with the very opposite impression. The museum was short millions of dollars in its fundraising for a new $76 million, cantilevered facility along downtown's Ashley Drive. Its attendance estimates were suspect. It had no solid business plan. And there was no financial cushion protecting the city were the museum to go bust. ...
Ralph Hughes' death last month is also a political obituary. No single person spent as much of his own time and money as this concrete magnate did to push Hillsborough's Republican leadership to the conservative fringe. His passing not only creates a void; it could fundamentally alter the face of Republican politics immediately — and for years to come.
Hughes' passing brought a reaction that was not only uncharacteristically tepid for such a strong, public figure but also remarkable for how it misread his impact on the party. He was remembered as a young man who "dabbled in boxing," becoming "the father of conservatism in Hillsborough County." "Dabbling" in boxing is like dabbling in pregnancy; it minimizes the passion he brought in the fight against government spending, taxes and regulation. Hughes always was all-in, and he expected those on the receiving end of his largesse and ever-present counsel to be there, too. ...