10/12/15 Local Government
TAMPA — Until last year, the city had not inspected nearly 80 percent of the roads it is responsible for keeping paved for at least six years.
More than one in six road segments had not been looked at in nine years.
A $540,000 asphalt paving machine bought in 2012 sat idle more than half the time in 2014. Often that downtime took place while its crew was deployed hauling away pulverized pavement milled by a private contractor....
With $175 billion in potential losses, Tampa Bay is the most vulnerable metro area in the nation to storm surge floods caused by a once-in-a-century hurricane.
That's the conclusion from a recent study by Karen Clark & Co. (KCC), a Boston-based firm that specializes in modeling the likely property damage and losses from windstorms, earthquakes and other catastrophes for the insurance industry....
Tampa has just wrapped up another record-breaking year for building permits, but not in every category.
For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the city issued a total of 23,161 building permits, 16,855 for residential construction and 6,306 for commercial projects. That's nearly a third fewer than the total for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
But the total value of all those projects grew by 20 percent: more than $2.4 billion last year compared to just over $2 billion the year before. And each of the last two years beat the city's previous record of $1.8 billion worth of permits issued in 2007 before the real estate crash and Great Recession....
10/08/15 Local Government
TAMPA — In the end, the mayor and the City Council each gave a little.
So after another lengthy debate Thursday night, the council took the first step toward accepting four appointees on Tampa's new 11-member Citizens Review Board for police.
That's more than the two Mayor Bob Buckhorn originally proposed but less than the seven council Chairman Frank Reddick has demanded for months....
10/08/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — After nearly two years of trying, City Hall appears to have a buyer with a big plan for a high-profile corner in Ybor City.
The City Council next week is expected to consider a contract to sell a third of a block at E Seventh Avenue and Nick Nuccio Parkway for $792,000.
The buyer is a partnership between homebuilder Ariel Quintela and Darryl Shaw, the CEO of BluePearl Veterinary, a Tampa-based company with emergency animal hospitals and specialty veterinary clinics in 17 states....
TAMPA — They had a cordial meeting last week, but going into an expected City Council vote tonight council chairman Frank Reddick and Mayor Bob Buckhorn have no agreement on the makeup of Tampa's new Citizens Review Board for police.
"Obviously," Buckhorn says, "there's a difference in opinion on the number of appointees."
Buckhorn created the 11-member board with nine mayoral appointees and two named by City Council....
TAMPA — Twenty-four hours later, Chamberlain High students returned to school Wednesday, and local officials returned to the question they ask whenever a teen like Alexis Miranda dies walking to school on a busy road:
What, if anything, can we do to prevent this?
The Florida Department of Transportation said it was gearing up to study — for the second time in two years — whether Busch needs more crosswalks....
Traffic chokes all four lanes. Vehicles turn the center turn lane into an illegal passing zone. Students dart across traffic, ignoring the crosswalks the city has tried to make safer.
The stretch of Busch Boulevard outside Chamberlain High School becomes a maelstrom of impatient drivers and inattentive teens whenever school starts and lets out.
It was amid this chaos that 17-year-old Alexis Miranda lost her life Tuesday morning. The Chamberlain High student was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing Busch....
TAMPA — City Council Chairman Frank Reddick walked out of Mayor Bob Buckhorn's office Friday with a sense of having made some progress and the gift of a baseball.
But Reddick did not leave with an agreement about the number of members the City Council will appoint to Tampa's new Citizens Review Board for police.
Rather, Reddick and Buckhorn talked about various possible scenarios for the 11-member board, which is being created to review closed internal affairs cases involving the use of force and police pursuits, as well as other policies and issues of public concern....
More than a quarter of the Tampa Bay area’s renters spend at least half of their pre-tax household income on rent and utilities, according to a survey from the renter advocacy campaign Make Room.
That’s a level that’s considered to be a “severe” burden on the 114,342 local renters who are paying it, said Make Room, whose sponsoring partner is the Maryland-based nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners....
TAMPA — Thanks to a new partnership with some New York-based wellness gurus, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's plan for a $2 billion downtown development now includes a major commitment to promoting healthy living.
But still, this is America.
And America is about freedom and choice.
So while salad could be plentiful and sugary drinks scarce in at least some office buildings, planners say the new district will still be a place where you can find a burger and a beer....
10/01/15 Local Government
TAMPA — The City Council voted Thursday to pull back about $75,000 it pledged to the Go Hillsborough transportation project.
The council voted on Sept. 3 to pay $74,985 to the engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, which is managing Go Hillsborough's efforts to get public feedback on the idea of a 2016 referendum on whether to raise the sales tax to help pay for transportation projects....
To Jeff Vinik's list of big ambitions for what he now describes as a $2 billion project near downtown Tampa, add this:
To create the world's first city district designed to make those who live and work there more healthy.
Vinik on Tuesday unveiled a partnership to do that with Delos, a New York-based real estate company that tries to build health and wellness strategies into its projects....
TAMPA — On one thing, there is no argument: In 2013, City Hall suggested to a planning firm hired to redesign Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park that it expand its team to include Tampa public relations consultant Beth Leytham.
That's the same Beth Leytham now facing questions — first raised by WTSP 10News and that she disputes — about whether she worked behind the scenes to nudge Hillsborough County officials toward giving a $1.35 million consulting contract to a firm that employs her as a subcontractor....
The beginning of this week will be plenty wet, according to WTSP 10 Weather, but the weekend is expected to be "cooler" and "not as humid."
"This is a fantastic weekend coming up," said meteorologist Bobby Deskins.
Daytime temperatures should hover in the mid 80s starting Friday, and overnight they'll dip into the lower 70s. Deskins said those mild conditions should last through Sunday....