About 60 people criticized Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Selvey at a meeting Thursday for pushing a proposed extension of the Crosstown Expressway through their part of the county. Some of the critics at the Riverview Civic Center said they used to be Selvey supporters. But now they're angry enough to think about having him recalled.
"Our goal is to stop this Crosstown from going through here," said Riverview resident Steve Wortham. "But we're forming a committee to see why Selvey has been pushing this southern route so hard and if we have grounds to have him recalled."
Wortham, president of People for People, a group of residents, said the meeting Thursday night reflects just how angry Riverview residents are with Selvey's support of the southern extension.
"This has always been Jim Selvey country," he said. "And he has done some things for us that others wouldn't do. We tried for years to get fire hydrants out here, and Jim finally got them for us.
"Heck, he was on the gravy train in these parts," Wortham added. "But I'll bet he's lost 70 percent of his people down here now."
Selvey, who did not attend the meeting, favors the proposed Crosstown extension running south of Brandon, across the Alafia River and along Boyette Road. The route would mean fewer homes being razed and consequently cost less than two others being considered along State Road 60 and Lumsden Road, Selvey has said.
But consultants hired by the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority already have ruled out several southern routes. They concluded in a $928,000 study that there wouldn't be enough traffic to pay for such a toll road extension.
The authority's executive director, Ray Speer, said Friday a southern extension would have to go through too much environmentally sensitive land.
"Our studies are showing that we would have a tough time building it down there because of the environment around the Alafia River," Speer said. He added that some sort of extension is needed, though, to relieve traffic on crowded State Road 60, especially that section through Brandon.
Speer said a decision on where to build an extension could be made by the end of this year.
Selvey could not be reached for comment Friday. An aide said he missed the Riverview meeting because he was attending a conference in Jacksonville.
Civic activist Art Merish said Thursday he sees the recall resolution as largely symbolic.
"Frankly, a recall is a very complicated, expensive procedure to
undertake," said Merish, president of Civic Associations Sticking Together. "You have to do two petitions and get 5 percent of the district's registered voters on the first one and 15 percent on the second. That would be about 32,000 signatures out here. Very tough to do."
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Robin Krivanek said a
successful recall campaign has never been done here. She also said grounds for such a recall are extremely limited and must be proved before a petition has any effect.
But Wortham said even if the residents never get to the petition stage, they still will be unified. "That's what we need now more than anything else - to stand together."