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"Channelside' gets two-week test drive

As if they didn't have enough suggestions for what to name the road in front of the Florida Aquarium, City Council members got a few more proposals Thursday.

How about Fort Brooke Boulevard, since the road passes by the former site of the 19th-century outpost?

Or how about something really nautical, like Channel Shore Drive?

Or how about Miracle Boulevard, since some folks marvel that an area of beat-up warehouses and vacant lots someday will be home to the aquarium, the nearby Tampa Bay Lightning hockey arena and new cruise ship terminals?

The council ended up giving preliminary approval to Channelside Drive, but left room to change the name at a final vote in two weeks.

This came after some people contended the city hasn't had enough names to consider. They said it has plenty of acceptable candidates, but nothing inspirational.

"We view this as an opportunity for the city to create a name that is distinctive," said John Ranon, chairman-elect of the Ybor City Development Corp. and head of the non-profit group's transportation committee.

Channelside Drive, he said, is a "name that is harmless but is innocuous."

After the final vote, the new name will apply to the 1.7 miles of pavement that is now Platt Street east of the Hillsborough River and 13th Street from Platt north to the Nick Nuccio Parkway.

Ranon suggested waiting two to four weeks so the city could harness the creative energies of local public relations and advertising firms.

But City Council member Linda Saul-Sena doubted that would help much. She noted that the city began looking for names in mid-July, has enlisted the help of two public relations writers and had held at least three open meetings to discuss nearly 100 possible names.

Besides, she said, the aquarium must print stationery and promotional materials and needs to know what street address to include.

"I don't believe giving ourselves another several weeks is going to make this process any clearer," Saul-Sena said. "It has not been like people (making decisions) in a dark room. It has been a very open and inclusive process."