10/23/14 Local Government
TAMPA — City Hall on Thursday unveiled a $1 million partnership with the nonprofit Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to create a synthetic-turf youth baseball field in Sulphur Springs.
The city has pledged $500,000 toward the new field at Springhill Park Community Center south of Busch Boulevard, with the other half coming from the foundation.
Established by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.'s family, the organization has built 34 youth development parks in poor neighborhoods. "These kids do not have a safe place to play outside in neighborhood after neighborhood across the country," foundation president Steve Salem said....
10/23/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners took just 10 minutes last week to approve an agreement renewing Tampa's community redevelopment areas.
On Thursday, the City Council signed off on the same deal, but spent a lot more time talking about it.
Several council members disliked the scope, timing, terms or historical background of the agreement, which will limit future county contributions to downtown redevelopment efforts....
TAMPA — The contractor building an $8.8 million section of Tampa's Riverwalk will pay $10,000 in fines for dumping concrete waste into the Hillsborough River.
Johnson Bros. Corp. of Lithia also agreed to cover the investigative costs of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission, which each imposed a $5,000 fine.
Together, those costs bring the total that Johnson Bros. will pay to slightly more than $11,000....
10/23/14 Local Government
TAMPA — City Hall's plan to add parking and a bike lane to Platt Street has met with so much neighborhood support that it's getting bigger.
After meeting with residents, city officials said last week they plan to add on-street parking and a bike lane to Platt all the way from S Armenia Avenue to Bayshore Boulevard.
In August, officials first said the south side of Platt could get 54 new metered parking spaces from Armenia to S Dakota Avenue, just west of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway overpass....
10/22/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — The last time Tampa police had ready access to a firing range was 1995, but it closed after nearby houses were peppered with stray 9mm rounds.
Now the city is building a $5.4 million practice range designed to be convenient for officers and easy on the neighbors.
The range will be built next to the city's McKay Bay garbage incinerator, with walls and angled sections of roofing to keep bullets inside, plus sound-absorbing materials to reduce the sound of gunfire....
10/17/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Tampa plans no changes to its red-light camera program following a legal setback for red-light camera citations in a South Florida city with the same vendor and similar procedures.
"The bottom line is this: We, at this point, are going to continue to go forward," City Attorney Julia Mandell said Friday.
In light of a court case out of Hollywood, Fla., City Hall has reviewed its contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and the steps for issuing traffic citations from 23 Tampa intersections monitored by red-light cameras....
10/16/14 Local Government
TAMPA — So how cool would it be to stroll on Tampa's Riverwalk with an ice-cold beer in your hand?
It could happen.
The City Council took the first step toward that Thursday by giving its initial approval to a new ordinance allowing open containers of alcohol on the Riverwalk — under certain conditions.
For one, you couldn't bring your own.
Instead, you'd have to buy the drink from one of eight places — including hotels, restaurants, museums and the Tampa Convention Center — now licensed to sell alcohol along the Riverwalk....
A South Florida court ruling Wednesday set red-light camera opponents abuzz statewide.
In a case involving the city of Hollywood, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal dismissed a citation against motorist Eric Arem.
The court, based in West Palm Beach, ruled that Hollywood officials delegated too much authority to the vendor of their system when it came to issuing traffic citations....
10/15/14 Real Estate
TAMPA — Jeff Vinik wants the University of South Florida to build a new medical school on his downtown property so badly that he's willing to give the school an acre of his land to seal the deal.
The Tampa Bay Lightning owner made the offer this week to USF president Judy Genshaft and Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, according to a university spokesman....
10/15/14 Local Government
TAMPA — One vote down. One to go.
On Wednesday, Hillsborough County commissioners unanimously approved a proposal designed to do two big things.
First, it would steer more property tax revenues generated within Tampa's downtown community redevelopment area, or CRA, to county government.
Also, it would set aside up to $100 million in city and county funds to support high-profile downtown redevelopment projects over the next three decades....
TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has hired heavy-hitting lobbyist Brian Ballard and two others to represent his interests in Tallahassee.
A Lightning spokesman would not comment Tuesday on the goals to be given the lobbyists, who weren't talking much, either.
But it would come as no surprise for them to lobby the Legislature for millions of dollars for a new downtown medical school for the University of South Florida — a project USF is considering putting on Vinik's land near Amalie Arena....
10/13/14 Special Topics
Check out the Church of Scientology's latest glossy Freedom magazine, and you'll see some advice for the city of Clearwater from former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco.
The message, conveyed in a two-page spread with Greco's likeness and byline: Team up with Scientology.
"There are two major partners — the City and the Church — that can make a plan that will carry the city to prosperity for decades to come," according to a guest column labeled "by former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco."...
Last week was midterm week and thus a busy week at the University of Tampa, but it wasn’t so hectic as to keep UT junior Tyler Barrett from launching his candidacy for City Council District 4....
10/12/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Downtown projects generate the most cash and grab the headlines, but Tampa's redevelopment efforts outside the urban core also face a key vote this week.
After about a year of negotiation, Tampa and Hillsborough County officials propose to renew all of the city's existing "community redevelopment areas," plus create a new one.
County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the proposal Wednesday. The City Council plans to take it up Oct. 23....
Old Seminole Heights civic activist Susan Long on Friday filed to run for the citywide Tampa City Council seat currently held by Mike Suarez....